Posts By: Lauren Oto

California legislation that seeks to end a popular service called zero-rating threatens to raise consumer bills by $360/year.

Posted on August 2, 2018 by - News, Public Policy

That’s why CalAsian Chamber has expressed concerns over SB822 and SB460. Learn more here.

Legislation to ban “zero-rated” free streaming data impacts 3.6 million consumers

A recently released analysis, Benefits to California Consumers from Zero-Rated Data, authored by Dr. David W. Sosa, Ph.D., shows 3.6 million Californians are benefiting today from “zero-rated” free streaming.


…these types of zero-rating services disproportionately” impact minority and lower income consumers that “are more reliant on smartphones to access the internet.”


Proposed legislation in California, Senate Bill 822, would ban these types of plans. The findings from Dr. Sosa show that a ban on these types of zero-rating services would “disproportionately” impact minority and lower income consumers that “are more reliant on smartphones to access the internet.” Some of these consumers could have to pay $30 per month more.

According to the study, “24% of Asian American Californians with a broadband connection rely exclusively on smartphones and mobile broadband services to access the internet”.


Check out what our friends at CalInnovates put together to show the potential impact of SB 822:



MWBC: (Lack of) Access to Capital

Posted on July 16, 2018 by - Chamber Blog, News, Uncategorized

Access to capital is one of the greatest barriers faced by minority business owners, and one of the largest reasons they fail to grow.

Minority-owned businesses are found to pay higher interest rates on loans. They are also more likely to be denied credit, and are less likely to apply for loans because they fear their applications will be denied. Further, minority-owned firms are found to have less than half the average amount of recent equity investments and loans than non-minority firms even among firms with $500,000 or more in annual gross receipts, and also invest substantially less capital at startup and in the first few years of existence than non-minority firms.

  • Minority Business Development Agency


 minority womens business conference

Hear from leaders Betty Yee, State Controller, Fiona Ma, California Board of Equalization, and more on what their take on this challenge is and what can be done September 6 at our Minority Women’s Business Conference.

Subscribe for our blog content and newsletter to receive more Minority Women in Business insights as we get closer to the event date!

MWBC: 70% of Women Owned Businesses have annual receipts of less than $25K and Only 10% have employees

Posted on July 2, 2018 by - News


according to the Women’s Chamber of Commerce “Wake Up Call” Report.


28% of all women-owned businesses are operated by women of color, but there’s a large disparity between what this percentage reaps in annually. The gap between revenue between minority women and white women-owned business revenue is gigantic – it’s a gulf, not a gap.


Table Courtesy of 2017 US Women’s Chamber of Commerce “Wake Up Call Report”


What is causing this gap?


“Women now own some 30% of all businesses in the U.S. accounting for 9. 4 million firms. And African-American women control 14% of these companies or an estimated 1. 3 million businesses,” said Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence at the 2017 Creating the Conditions for Minority Women Entrepreneurs to Succeed Symposium held by the Democratic Women’s Working Group. “Despite these numbers minority female entrepreneurs start their ventures with less funding than men, receive less money from private investors and have lack of access to capital and peer and mentorship networks,” Lawrence said.  “We need to create an environment where minority women are encouraged to grow their businesses which generate jobs and economic security in their communities.”


While Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence summarizes this perfectly, the true scope of our challenge can’t be explained in just a few words – so we’ve decided to explain it at a conference.


On September 6, 2018, in San Jose, the CalAsian Chamber in partnership with National ACE will be presenting our first ever Minority Women’s Business Conference – an event we can assure you has our entire staff inspired and excited.


While both the CalAsian Chamber and National ACE  have been part of large initiatives to advocate for and empower the minority community, never have we purely focused on the minority women community. Both organizations are led by minority women, Chiling Tong and Pat Fong Kushida, who have made it their mission to not only host this event but also, to educate our memberships of the challenges minority women in business face.


In an effort to highlight the challenges posed to minority women-owned businesses, and spread the word about our event, our staff is putting together a series of blog posts, discussing the current state of affairs for minority women in business today and what ideas have been proposed so far.


Minority-owned businesses are an engine of employment in minority communities. If given the opportunity to truly grow and flourish, we can revitalize minority communities and diversify the workforce.


Let’s Reinvent What’s Possible.


Hear from leaders Betty Yee, California State Controller, Fiona Ma, Member of the California Board of Equalization and more on what their take on this challenge is and what can be done September 6 at our Minority Women’s Business Conference.


Subscribe to receive blog content and newsletters discussing minority women in business insights as we get closer to the event date!

YouTube Holds First Ever Asians on Youtube Celebration in Honor of API Heritage Month

Posted on June 1, 2018 by - News, Uncategorized


The influencer is one of the most interesting forms of industry. Since YouTube’s inception in 2005, young creators have been sharing video content and gaining followings in massive amounts. This sharing format elicited such large and dedicating followings have caught the attention of advertisers, sponsors, and more. 


Asian Americans have played a substantial role in the growth of YouTube and hold some of the highest subscriber counts on the website – and YouTube has noticed. For the first time ever, YouTube held a celebration in honor of AAPI Creators, where attendees gathered for dinner and awarded Jason Y. Lee of Jubilee Media, makers of the “Both Sides” series that went viral last year,  his 1,000,000 follower plaque. We here at the CalAsian Chamber would like to congratulate these AAPI entrepreneurs for all their success and thank them for representing the Asian American Community.


See more of what happened below:







CalAsian Chamber Listening Tour with Assemblymember Phil Ting

Posted on May 30, 2018 by - News

May 25, 2018, SAN FRANCISCO –

The CalAsian Chamber convened a business roundtable conversation with Assemblymember Phil Ting in his district in San Francisco on Friday, May 25th. In attendance were a mix of local small businesses, economic development organizations, API community partners, and Asian media outlets.

San Francisco’s small business community is thriving and its diversity is a huge part of the city’s character, making it a place where people want to live and work. But rising rents, lack of adequate housing, and growing congestion are a few of the challenges local businesses face.

The CalAsian Chamber is grateful for Assemblymember Ting’s support of small businesses, especially as traditional models are being disrupted and businesses are looking to adapt. Today’s event is a great example of inclusive dialogue that gives voice to the local business community and the partners who work hard to support them.

Topics of discussion included: urban congestion, adequate housing, empty storefronts, the gig economy, homelessness, small business lending, and education infrastructure.


Urban Congestion

Beyond adding transportation infrastructure, which is a long-term solution, what can be done in the short-term? Many city workers live outside of the city and commute in since there is probably a 40% premium for living in the city; in addition, the rise in the popularity of ride-sharing has brought many more cars into the city to meet consumer demand. The city can accommodate more pedestrians and bikers, and solutions must encourage these forms of transportation.


SF only has shelter beds for about 30% of its homeless population on any given night. It is a crisis and there needs to be a longer-term solution; Assemblymember Ting is hopeful, but residents must take a hard look at the best use of space – commercial vs. residential as well as how to support inclusive development.

Empty Storefronts and the Gig Economy

There has been a shift in how people shop and businesses must adjust to this new reality. We must be able to differentiate between transitional and permanent state funding to facilitate this transition. In addition, opening businesses in SF is an onerous process and need to be streamlined. The state must figure out how to regulate the new “gig economy” as people are increasingly willing to pay to deliver services. Still, much of SF’s value is its unique neighborhood character, and businesses play a large role in shaping this.

Education Infrastructure

Assemblymember Ting is concerned about the disparity between the traditional college degree and transition jobs. We must ramp up education to meet our workforce needs so that workers have the skillsets necessary to transition out of minimum wage jobs and into the next economy. Apprenticeship programs are important, as is speeding up the course approval process; our system needs to be more flexible. The Governor’s online community colleges is one way to meet this need.


The CalAsian Chamber Gears Up to Visit Denver, Colorado for their “Mile High Study Mission”: A Closer Look at an Evolved Cannabis Market

Posted on May 16, 2018 by - News, Press Release

On September 23rd to 26th, 2018 the CalAsian Chamber will be taking a delegation comprised of regulators, entrepreneurs, investors, and electeds from California to Denver, Colorado to observe and experience the evolution of the cannabis industry since the legalization of adult-use in 2012 leading up to the successful regulation roll out in January 2014.

Our focus is to identify and explore the opportunities and challenges that regulators, entrepreneurs, and investors may encounter in California since legalization and how Colorado capitalized on this new industry. The study mission will also provide education and insight from developed businesses and regulators from all aspects of the industry including retail, cultivation, manufacturing, ancillary, banking, taxes and technology.

The trip will consist of tours, panels, and meetings amongst Denver’s industry leaders, Colorado’s regulators, and key members of the business community sharing their perspective on how the industry has changed since the transition to adult-use in 2014 as well as the industry’s impact on the City of Denver. The CalAsian Chamber hopes to bring back perspective and insight to both local and state representatives here in California in an effort to prepare for the future and protect both cannabis business Learn, Lead, and Refine.

Interested in joining us on our trip to Denver?

Contact Thuy Nguyen at or 916.389.7468

See our itinerary here 

Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council Leads New Small Business Roundtable Coalition

Posted on May 14, 2018 by - News

Posted By Michael Guta On April 10, 2018 @ 1:45 pm In Economy

SOURCE: Small Business Trends

The Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council announces formation of the Small Business Roundtable [1], a coalition of small business advocacy groups including National Association for the Self Employed, National Association of Women Business Owners and others.


Small Business Roundtable Coalition

The goal of this coalition is to benefit the 30 million businesses across the US by advancing policy, securing access, and promoting inclusion for their owners. In addition to the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, the National Association for the Self Employed and the National Association of Women Business Owners, the coalition will include the National Small Business Association, the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc., and the Asian/Pacific Islander American Chamber of Commerce & Entrepreneurship.

One of the challenges individual small business owners face is not having the resources to affect policy changes. By bringing together millions of businesses into a coalition, the newly formed Small Business Roundtable will give small business owners the voice they need in local, state and national forums. This is one of the many benefits Rhett Buttle and John Stanford, founders and managers of Small Business Roundtable, addressed in a recent press release.

They said [2], “Washington responds most to organized interests, and today marks a step to better organize the small business community. One in ten Americans take the risk to launch a business, and when they succeed, our country succeeds. With the backing of our members we can make sure Congress and the Administration hear this message [3] loud and clear.”


The Need for the Small Business Roundtable

Simply put, the Small Business Roundtable was put together to put forward a unified voice on public policy regarding small business associations. With a singular resource, small business leaders will have access to the latest information so they can use it to increase their influence and better advance small business interests.

Small Business Roundtable Chair and President and CEO of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, Karen Kerrigan explained exactly what the coalition will do. She said the Small Business Roundtable will advance economic agendas across the United States while pushing forward meaningful action on a small business policy agenda. According to Kerrigan, oftentimes small business owners have been taking, “… a back seat to rhetoric or narrow special interests.”

She adds, “SBR plans to transform that narrative. We aim to coalesce the membership, reputation and influence of the collective small business community around three core offerings: policy, access and inclusion.”

Sacramento Asian Pacific Chamber bets big on cannabis industry

Posted on May 11, 2018 by - News

Source: Sacramento Business Journal

by Scott Rodd Staff Writer Sacramento Business Journal

SUBSCRIBER CONTENT: Apr 26, 2018, 7:28am PDT

With California’s legalization of recreational cannabis on Jan 1, Frank Louie didn’t see uncertainty — he saw opportunity.

“The people voted — it was going to be a legal industry,” said Louie, chief operating officer of the Sacramento Asian Pacific Chamber of Commerce. “And we recognized that small businesses and entrepreneurs were going to be a big part of this industry.”

Educating the Asian Pacific Chamber’s leadership and members about cannabis has been a top priority for the organization. Following the 2016 passage of Proposition 64, leaders from the Asian Pacific Chamber have met with regulators from the state Bureau of Cannabis Control and the city of Sacramento’s Office of Cannabis Policy and Enforcement to remain abreast of the industry’s evolving regulations.

Starting in May of last year, the Asian Pacific Chamber launched a series of panel discussions on the cannabis industry, featuring state and local regulators, as well as influential members of the Asian Pacific Chamber. The organization has also hosted smaller community gatherings.

The Asian Pacific Chamber’s goal, according to Louie, is to ensure its members have the necessary resources to transition their existing businesses to serve cannabis companies, as well as to launch new ventures in the budding marijuana space.

“There’s a very diverse need for resources for entrepreneurs trying to break into this industry,” he said.

Over the last year, the Sacramento Asian Pacific Chamber of Commerce and the CalAsian Chamber of Commerce — state and local organizations based in Sacramento that share the same leadership staff — have organized five panel discussions featuring regulators, entrepreneurs and trade association leaders in the cannabis industry. The most recent event featured Lori Ajax, chief of the state Bureau of Cannabis Control, as its keynote speaker.

The ticketed events are open to the public, but members are able to attend at a significant discount. According to Louie, the panel discussions are an opportunity for members to learn about the industry, as well as gain access to influential people.

“Think about how a small business owner would be able to reach state regulators and policymakers on their own— they wouldn’t be able to,” he said. The Asian Pacific Chamber has also helped organize more intimate community gatherings for Asian-American business owners — especially for those who are first or second-generation Americans. In recent months, the organization hosted a community gathering in a South Sacramento neighborhood with a large Asian-American population. A trusted community leader held the gathering in his home, and the Asian Pacific Chamber arranged for an interpreter to translate the discussion for non-English-speaking attendees.

The smaller event was intended to cover practical requirements for getting involved in the cannabis industry. It also aimed to reverse long-held assumptions about marijuana.

Ophelia Chong, founder of the online platform Asian Americans for Cannabis Education, said one of the biggest challenges for the Asian Pacific Chamber has been destigmatizing cannabis. Chong’s website highlights Asian-American entrepreneurs and researchers working in cannabis. Louie approached her to join the CalAsian Chamber of Commerce in order to leverage her educational platform.

“With the interviews that I post, I try to talk about heritage, where people have come from and why they’re in the industry,” Chong said.

Chong, who is also the founder of stock photo agency StockPot Images LLC, is one of several cannabis entrepreneurs that the Asian Pacific Chamber recruited in anticipation of the state’s legalization of recreational cannabis.

Tyler Kearns, owner of SevenLeaves Products, a cannabis cultivator in North Sacramento, was invited to join the Asian Pacific Chamber’s board of directors.

Founded in 2015, SevenLeaves employs 12 full-time and 16 part-time employees. As an Asian Pacific Chamber board member, Kearns has hosted tours for members at his facility and conducted outreach with members of the Asian Pacific Chamber who want to break into the nascent industry.

“They need direction on where to start that process,” Kearns said.

Other area chambers of commerce do not appear to have named cannabis entrepreneurs to their boards. The California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, however, has conducted a cannabis business workshop, and the Sacramento Black Chamber of Commerce expressed support for Proposition 64. The Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce has cannabis businesses represented in its membership, spokeswoman Erika Bjork said. “As an emerging industry, we are actively exploring ways that the Metro Chamber can engage, and support, this sector of the ag industry,” Bjork said in an email. The majority of Asian Pacific Chamber members Kearns has met with are looking to find an auxiliary niche in the cannabis industry — such as packaging, marketing or real estate services. In the coming months and years, Louie said, he expects a growing number of Asian Pacific Chamber members will launch cannabis-focused businesses, especially in cultivation and manufacturing.




Minority-owned Businesses Deserve a Shot at Pot Jackpot

Posted on May 11, 2018 by - News

Source: The Sacramento Bee


January 19, 2018

Not since the repeal of Prohibition in 1933 has there been a business opportunity like the legalization of marijuana. To take advantage, the city of Sacramento is shaping a program to help disadvantaged communities participate in meaningful ways.

While nearby local governments are putting up barriers to the new marketplace, Sacramento is opening doors. City council members should be recognized for their political courage in approving the Cannabis Opportunity, Reinvestment and Equity program.

There are also obvious benefits for city government since recreational sales will generate vitally needed new taxes and fees. General fund revenues in 2016 from 30 medical marijuana dispensaries totaled more than $4.8 million.

The city’s social equity plan is an audacious experiment – as revolutionary as voters’ decision in 2016 to approve recreational marijuana use in California. Since the entire nation will be watching the experiment, the City Council and staff need to ensure that small minority-owned businesses wanting to participate have a level playing field. The city’s next step is to develop the request for proposals for outside groups to establish small business support centers and mentoring programs and to provide technical assistance.

Assisting minority businesses will also help persuade those skirting the law to come in from the cold. Fairly treating minority communities will keep businesses legitimate, keep the public safe and keep tax dollars flowing into city coffers.

When Bill Lockyer, California’s former attorney general, recently announced he was co-founding a cannabis distribution business in Los Angeles, he framed the legalization of marijuana in a way that’s practical to the business community: “I think legalizing will help stabilize and help legitimize this industry and result in better consumer protection and other public benefits.”

That is the reasoning behind the outreach programs that the Sacramento and California Asian-Pacific chambers of commerce have been conducting over the last year. We have held four roundtables and educational workshops, attracting several hundred attendees interested in learning more about this emerging industry and how to operate successful – and legal – enterprises. They are eager for more help and welcome the spirit behind the city’s social equity plan since many, themselves, were subjected to economic discrimination in the last century.

Pat Fong Kushida is president & CEO of the Sacramento Asian-Pacific Chamber of Commerce.

She can be contacted at

January is the last chance for Congress to protect Dreamers

Posted on May 17, 2018 by - Uncategorized

By Pat Fong Kushida
We are closer than ever to passing legislation to permanently protect the workers and students enrolled in DACA. But January is the last chance for Congress to take action before tens of thousands of Dreamers lose their ability to live in the United States and continue working. This is why I urge California’s representatives in Congress to work to pass legislation this month before it is too late.

The repeal of DACA has created an urgent crisis, not only for the 230,000 Dreamers in California but also for our economy, including California’s more than 600,000 Asian Pacific Islander (API)-owned businesses that know Dreamers as employees, customers, and community members. Removing these individuals from their homes and the only country they know would be an inexcusable moral failure. This move would impact far more than California’s Dreamers – immigration policy affects all of us, and the subsequent hit to the economy would hurt U.S.-born employers and workers too.

Roughly 90 percent of Dreamers are currently employed and six percent have launched their own businesses. Removing these workers – and, in some cases, the U.S.-born workers they employ – from our economy would cost an estimated $460 billion GDP loss over the next decade. Employers would be hit with $3.4 billion in unnecessary turnover costs and contributions to Medicare and Social Security would fall by roughly $25 billion.

Businesses and communities are already feeling the effect. Since the repeal of DACA in September, almost 14,000 Dreamers have already lost their work permits. Until Congress passes a permanent legislative solution, 122 more will continue to fall out of status every single day. Even worse, the number of people impacted will go up dramatically after March 5th, which is Congress’ deadline to act.

But waiting until March 5th is not a viable option. After Congress passes a legislative solution, it will take months for the Department of Homeland Security to establish and implement a system for Dreamers to apply for residency and work permits, and to adjudicate those applications. For context, when DACA was established in 2012, it took almost three months before the first applications were approved. Even if it only takes half of that time for U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services to establish this process, Congress would need to pass a bill by January 19th to provide enough time for agencies to process applications before thousands of DACA recipients are cut out of the economy and workers stop showing up for work.

Also before Congress this month is a year-long spending bill, which includes funds for Homeland Security and ICE. A vote for this spending bill without protections for Dreamers is a vote to fund the deportation of hundreds of thousands of Dreamers who fall out of status in the year ahead. So the timing could not be more urgent. Any Member of Congress who claims to stand with Dreamers cannot vote for a spending bill that will fund their detention and deportation, unless they have helped to pass a permanent legislative solution first.

For years, Congress has said they stand with Dreamers, but time and again, legislation to protect them has fallen short of the finish line. California’s businesses are saying enough is enough. Act now to protect our Dreamers before it is too late.

Pat Fong Kushida is president and CEO of the California Asian Pacific Chamber of Commerce.