After a cooking accident left her with burns, skincare entrepreneur Sally Olivia Kim of Crushed Tonic turned to collagen to heal herself. (Credit: Crushed Tonic)
Asian business owners saw one of the greatest hits in sales through 2020. Xenophobia, which became increasingly evident during the pandemic, played a large role. [Credit: Crushed Tonic]

Nearly 2 million businesses in the United States are Asian-owned, but we can do more to recognize the role the community plays in this country. 

The flood of hate crimes against the Asian community during the past year has reached the level of a full-blown crisis: data from the nonprofit organization Stop AAPI Hate shows approximately 3,800 crimes against Asian-Americans were reported between March 2020 and February 2021. The violence has also affected Asian-owned businesses, which have seen the biggest decline through 2020 as owners have had to close shop due to dismal sales.

In response to the surge in discrimination, the House passed a bill on Tuesday that aims to expedite review on crimes motivated by the pandemic. The new legislation coincides with Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, which we are honoring by featuring eight women who are using their businesses to avert future water crises, treat dementia and increase the number of female executives.

[Related: ‘I Am Not Okay.’ Asian-American Women Entrepreneurs Speak Out]

1

Georgene Huang, Fairygodboss

Most of us would like a fairy godmother, but what about a fairy godboss? This dynamic duo is here to help us find our Cinderella career moment. Haung and her co-founder Romy Newman have been helping women land jobs at female-friendly companies since 2015, when they first launched Fairygodboss.

2

Shaan Kandawalla, PlayDate Digital

Having experienced the patriarchal culture in Pakistan, Kandawalla came to the United States fully prepared to take on a male-dominated industry: tech. She founded PlayDate Digital in 2012 and became boss to a team of experts who create educational apps for children.

[Related: This International Women’s Day, Meet the 22-Year-Old Climate Activist From Pakistan]

3

Dr. Uma Gautam, HeadPro Consulting

In an effort to challenge India’s lack of female executives, Gautam founded her headhunting venture in 2011 and has been helping employ women in high-level jobs across India ever since.

4

Alison Chung, TeamWerks

Chung always had a special way with numbers. She now runs TeamWerks, a computer forensics firm that looks into fraud, theft and corruption for many big players in fields such as insurance or software.

[Related: Debugging Tech for Women Biz Owners of Color]

5

Xiaoning Wang, ChinaSprout

When Wang noticed a great deal of American parents adopting Chinese children, she felt such families needed a resource to make the transcultural adoption process a little less complicated. So she created ChinaSprout, which sells authentic Chinese products — and books — that help adoptive parents preserve the culture their kids come from.

6

Sally Olivia Kim, Crushed Tonic

Kim began making her own homemade collagen powder to treat arm burns she suffered after a cooking accident. Seeing quick results to her arms and overall improvement of her skin, she decided to package and sell the product. Although skincare is a saturated industry, “Trust,” Kim says, “is such an important — if not the most important — component of who we are.”

7

Dr. Anitha Rao, Neurocern

Neurocern is a software company that provides personalized regimens to the caretakers of those diagnosed with dementia, a disorder that disproportionately affects women. Rao, who earned her doctorate in 2008, focused her time on researching the illness before she co-founded Neurocern in 2014.

[Related: Toiling for Years Behind the Scenes, Female Scientists Finally Get Respect for Covid-19 Vaccines]

8

Meena Sankaran, Ketos

Growing up with little access to clean water in India inspired Sankaran to start Ketos, a California-based startup that provides real-time testing of water quality and efficiency to prevent water crises. “If we don’t take care of such a very precious resource like water, we are not going to leave much for the generations ahead,” Sankaran says.

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