Entrepreneurship is the lifeblood of America’s spirit and innovation. It has driven our country’s economic growth and memorialized the achievements of inventors, innovators, and businessmen such as Thomas Edison (Light Bulb) and Bill Gates (Microsoft). Our beloved Holy Prophet, Mohammad (SAW), was also an entrepreneur and trader who always acted with integrity while making a profit brokering deals with wholesalers and retailers. As such, the definition of entrepreneurship varies dramatically and can take the shape of a new convenience store in your local neighborhood or a technology solution that enables flying cars.
First and Second Generation Immigrants Account for 25% of all Companies Founded: Unlike the field of medicine or law, there is not a defined path, education, or criteria for a successful entrepreneur. The field caters most to those who have fanatical persistence, a willingness to work harder than anyone else, and those who approach problems with unique ideas and thinking. Historically, immigrants have always led the way as entrepreneurs because they have the desperation and mentality to drive a business forward and operate under the concept of “If I don’t succeed, I have nothing to fall back on”. In addition to 25% of all companies being founded by first and second-generation immigrants, over 60 percent of the most highly valued tech companies were co-founded by first or second-generation immigrants. These include Steve Jobs, a second-generation Syrian immigrant, and Sergey Brin, the Russian immigrant and co-founder of Google. These luminaries should serve as examples for our Ahmadi children who may be immigrants themselves or the progeny of immigrants.
Execution is Not Easy: A common misconception of entrepreneurship is that the “idea” is the most important thing. As most venture capitalists can attest…ideas are dime a dozen and are not worth much unless someone can build a team and execute upon the idea. Simply having the idea for the next Google is not enough. You must have technical skills or be able to effectively recruit a team to execute upon the vision. After building the product, you have to navigate competitive dynamics, sales, and customer support. This combination of skills is not easy to develop and requires
constant self-education and awareness. Many entrepreneurs fail. It’s important to take the failure in stride and understand the true risks of an endeavor. Do your research before jumping into something that will consume your life.
National Sanat-o-Tijarat Initiatives: There are two steps to our initiatives around entrepreneurship:
1) Inspire: We want to provide inspiration, mentorship, and examples for our members to
follow and show them what is truly possible.
2) Connect: We want to connect our members interested in entrepreneurship with resources and mentors to help guide them as they establish their initiatives.
Inspire Our goal as the leadership team for Sanat-o-Tijarat is to provide assistance to those seeking to become entrepreneurs. This is a tough task given the broad definition of entrepreneurship. However, we are blessed with Ahmadi’s across the United States that have a diverse set of skills that we hope to leverage.
We want to provide stories that inspire our members to take action followed by resources to make sure their actions yield success. A half-finished Capitol dome marked the Washington skyline in 1861 as the war began to tear the nation apart. Montgomery Meigs, head of the project, immediately halted the dome’s construction so that funding for the preservation of the Capitol could be redirected to the preservation of the very Union it represented.
But President Lincoln insisted on completing the Capitol dome as planned. “If people see the Capitol going on,” he said, “It is a sign we intend the Union shall go on” In 1865, Lincoln delivered his second inaugural address at the fully finished dome….
Lincoln’s decision as a leader presumed that the nation would survive and one day return to normal. He did not let the cataclysm of the Civil War stop him from investing in other important endeavors that would be beneficial for generations to come.
Lincoln’s steady leadership through a crisis should serve as a model for us as the Covid-19 coronavirus ravages our nation’s public health, economy, and way of life.
We will have monthly fireside chat themed conference calls hosted on Zoom to highlight the achievements of some of our esteemed members who have achieved success in entrepreneurship. These topics will range in industry, stage, and success. Our goal is to provide interesting content that is educational and can connect members in our jamaat to helpful resources. Recordings will be available for those unable to join live.
In addition to talks by members, we are also scheduling discussions with outside luminaries who can inspire our members. Leaders like Indra Nooyi (Former CEO of Pepsi), Shahid Khan (Owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars), and Mike Evans (Founder of Grubhub) will provide an excellent perspective for our members. We want to amplify the message of setting our sights high and aiming for the top.
Connect Building a business takes resources. It requires legal help to establish the business and operating agreements, capital, or even technological help. Our goal is to provide our members with access to these resources or point them in the right direction.
As an organization, this is manifested in mentorship and development. We will be establishing an Ahmadi Linkedin Group, message board, and focus on connecting our members with others who can be helpful.
Do you have questions on whether you should establish an LLC or C-Corp? How should you apply to Y-Combinator/TechStars or other accelerators? How can you raise capital? A member of our jamaat can help…and our job as the department of Sanat-o-Tijarat is to make sure our members are aware of the resources out there and take advantage.
Other Ideas: Entrepreneurial Leadership by itself is an esoteric term. With prayers, the blessings of Khilafat, and hard work, we hope to provide our members with resources to yield success. If you have ideas on how we can serve you better, please do not hesitate to reach out to:
Regional Secretary Sanat-o-Tijarat