Category Archives: Immigrant Millionaire Profiles

6 Self-Made Immigrant Millionaires – Dream Chasers Part I

The immigrant population of the US is made up of people from diverse backgrounds. They account for 13% of the nation’s population, and have contributed significantly to the diverse way of life that now exists in the country. These immigrants left their homeland in search of a better life for themselves and their loved ones. With America being well known as the land of opportunity, this is the country that many have chosen to make their new home. These dream chasers settled down to what would be for many a hard life, starting at the bottom and working their way up the ladder until they became self-made millionaires.

This will be a series of articles looking at six of America’s self-made immigrant millionaires, and their journey to copping the American Dream.

Lowell Hawthorne

The first immigrant millionaire we will look at is Jamaican born Lowell Hawthorne.

Coming from humble beginnings in his native country, Jamaica, Lowell Hawthorne arrived in America in 1981 as a 21 year old young man with a dream quite different from the one that has made him into a millionaire. His intention was to work for a year and return to his home country with enough money to buy himself a coaster bus. The cost of the buses back then was $250,000, which earned them the name “quarter million” buses by the locals. Owning a “quarter million” was, at that time, the dream of many Jamaicans who wanted to enter the field of transportation.

Hawthorne landed a job with the New York Police Department, and he pursued some studies at the Bronx Community College where he earned an associate’s degree in accounting. He was then promoted as an accountant, but his vision of someday becoming a successful entrepreneur grew even more.

Back in Jamaica, Lowell was exposed to entrepreneurship as his father operated a bakery. He began to dream of getting a Caribbean-themed, family run eatery up and running. He approached his sisters and seven brothers, who were also US immigrants, with the idea. They bought into the it, but were hampered on one hand by the reluctance of the banks to loan money for those types of restaurants, as there was a high failure rate in that area and on the other, by their lack of personal assets to secure such a loan.

The Beginning of a Dream Business

The manifestation of his dream business began in 1989 when he and his siblings raised $107,000 after taking out second mortgages on their homes and borrowing from family members. They opened the first Golden Krust restaurant in the Bronx that year. The Jamaican patties they produce have since become a staple in New York. Three years later, in 1991, Hawthorne, who was still working with the NYPD, resigned from his job to work at the restaurant full time. He received his citizenship the following year.

Since that first restaurant opening, Hawthorne’s dream business grew into a franchise. There are now over 120 Golden Krust restaurants in nine states along the East Coast, employing over 1600 people. One of this self-made millionaire’s philosophies is that opportunities are missed if one does not take risks. His venture into business is certainly one risk that was worth taking, as the company generated revenue amounting to $100 million in 2011. That success did not stop Hawthorne from thinking even bigger. He related that there were plans to expand the company’s business into the production of cooking sauces.

Lowell Hawthorne and his dream business, the Golden Krust restaurants have been featured in major publications such as, The Washington Post, Black Enterprise Magazine and the New York Times. Back home in Jamaica, he was awarded the prestigious local prize, The Observer Business Leader for 2010.




The man who pioneered cancer treatment – Patrick Soon-Shiong

Patrick was born in 1952 in South Africa during the time of apartheid. His parents were Chinese immigrants who were compelled to leave their land following the Second World War. At an early age of sixteen, Patrick attained his graduation from his school. At the age of twenty-three, he attained his graduation degree from the University of Witwatersrand. He completed his internship at the Johannesburg General Hospital and acquired his Master of Science Degree from the University of British Columbia. He also happens to be the first resident to collect multiple research awards from a host of premiere institutions like the American College of Surgeons, Royal College of Physicians, Surgeons of Canada and the American Association of Academic Surgery.

He then immigrated to the USA for his surgical training at the University of California, Los Angeles. He became a member of the Medical School faculty at the UCLA as an assistant professor at a young age of 31. In 1991, he left UCLA to come with VivoRx, a diabetes research firm. He founded the American Pharmaceutical Partners in 1997 and owns around 80% of the shares. His fortune is an estimated $3.5 billion. He is currently the founder, chairman and CEO of Abraxis BioScience, a bio-technology company that is working towards the development of effective cancer treatment. This nanotech drug is believed to be extremely potent with fewer side-effects.

The ex-senior Google man – Omid Kordestani

Prior to deciding on this answer it would be advisable to get the basics clear. Index is defined as a list of companies that are chosen from the stock markets. The rise and fall in the value of ratio of a consolidated collection of stocks in an index, for a specific time period is manifested through the return offered by the index. ETFs work on market capitalization and bonds. Since the index in itself is non-tradable, the investors are required to purchase all the stocks mentioned therein.

Although the ETFs can fluctuate, the investment can remain secure. You stand to receive the net asset value of your mutual fund investment. After the day’s transactions are over, this value is calculated. This is obtained by dividing the profits or losses by the total number of shares that constitute the fund. The movement of the ETF price is akin to the share prices. The closing price of the day is the ETF for that particular day. There are no further calculations required. The mutual funds are managed by professionals. For a mutual fund there might be a minimum subscription amount, while the ETF do not impose any such restrictions. But, the shares of the mutual funds are not burdened by brokerage charges; as such, the investor can transform his returns as handsome savings.

The choice basically depends on the expectation and objective of the investment portfolio.

Haim Saban: One of the richest American Media Proprietors

Haim Saban was born on the 15th of October, 1944 in Alexandria, Egypt. His present net worth is an estimated 2.8 billion US dollars and has attained the hundred and second position amongst the richest Americans. He is an acclaimed television and media proprietor. He had to undertake a pretty long immigration journey. After the 1956 Suez War, Haim accompanied his family to Israel from his motherland Egypt along with numerous other belonging to the Egyptian Jewish community. The family went bankrupt in 1975 and shifted base to Paris, France. In 1983, he finally moved to Los Angeles and is a resident of the Beverly Hills, California.

His career began as a concert organizer and music promoter while he was in Israel. When he was in France, he got involved in the introduction of the Japanese anime and the sentai TV series. He was responsible for t he production of the scores and the opening themes for the UFO Robot Grendizer and Candy Candy. He continued the same work when he arrived in America and began his odyssey towards emerging as a millionaire by becoming a television producer through laying the foundation of the Saban Entertainment in the year 1988. Then, with the purchase of the Kirch Media Group in 2003, for a whopping $5.7 billion, Haim was finally able to prove his point as a successful immigrant.

The television industry mogul

John Kluge has evolved as one of the most popular television industry moguls in the recent years of America. He was born in Chemnitz, Germany on the 21st of September, 1914 and immigrated along with his family to the United States as a little child. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Economics from the Columbia University in 1937. He had also been a student of the Wayne State University prior to joining the Columbia University.

During the middle of the last century, Kluge purchased stocks of the Metropolitan Broadcasting Corporation. This was his first venture in to the media industry as well as his first step towards becoming a millionaire. This Corporation was basically preceded by the DuMont Television Network and the Corporation comprised of two stations. The WABD located in the New York City and the WTTG located in Washington, D.C. today, both these DuMont outlets operates as independent stations. He emerged as the largest stockholder which was worth $6,000,000. He rechristened the company’s name to Metromedia and later in 1986; he sold off the television stations to the 20th Century Fox. The company’s worth is currently an estimated $4 billion.

The Forbes Magazine declared John Kluge as one of the richest men in America. Kluge is also an avid philanthropist. He took an active initiation in the creation of the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress and donated a whopping $60 million.

Igor Olenicoff – Russian real estate Tycoon

Igor Olenicoff immigrated to the United States of America when he was barely eighteen years old. He was accompanied by his family and they had just $800 in hand as they crossed over from Russia following the Russian Revolution of 1917. These immigrants were initially considered as “country-less and effectively illegals”. This was the fate of numerous others who were compelled to immigrate due to the situation of the land. It was basically the caste system that was responsible for this hostile attitude.

In America, Igor attended the USC and began to work as an executive in the Mowtown Records at the initial years of his career. Thus, began his journey towards becoming a millionaire. This was actually initiated when he decided to check out his luck at the real estate business. It was in the year 1973, that Igor laid the foundation stone of Olen Properties. It shaped up to this empire that has spread its branches across the entire continent as well as the world. The current amount of commercial space owned by Olen Properties is over 6.4 million square feet and it has around 11,800 residential units strewn across Los Angeles, Florida and Las Vegas. Igor observes that the key to his spectacular business growth is due to the timely and adequate credit availability that allows the immigrants to live their dreams.

John Catsimatidis of Red Apple Group

The owner, president, chairman and CEO of the Red Apple Group is John Catsimatidis. He also owns the Gristedes Foods. There is a subsidiary of the Red Apple Group called the United Refining Company, which is owned by John as well. The Red Apple Group has its shares distributed in the aviation industry and the real estate sector. His business flourishes in the area comprising of New York, Florida and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Hellenic Times publication is owned and operated by him. He can undoubtedly be considered as a multi-faceted business personality. His achievements and contribution towards the furtherance of his business and economy as a whole has made him the recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.

Catsimatidis immigrated to the United States as an infant, accompanied by his parents from the island of Nisyros, Greece. He acquired his graduation degree from the Brooklyn Technical High School in the year 1966. His journey towards becoming a millionaire started off in a pretty somber manner. His career began as a mere recruit under his uncle in the supermarket located on the 137th Street. He named his first store in Manhattan, named ‘Seven Eleven’. During the later part of the 1970s, he started his Red Apple supermarket on the 87th Street, adjacent to Broadway. Being a certified jet pilot, it was not hard for him to indulge in the aviation industry.

Jerry Yang – The co-founder of Yahoo! Inc.

Jerry Yang was born on the 6th of November 1968 in Taipei, Taiwan. He is a Chinese American entrepreneur and the co-founder of Yahoo! Inc. He styled himself as the Chief Yahoo! At the age of eight, he immigrated along with his family to the United States of America. They settled down at San Jose, California. His father passed away when he was just two years of age. It is quite surprising to note that Jerry knew just one English word ‘shoe’ when he arrived at USA. This is despite the fact that his mother was an English teacher!

Within a span of three years, Jerry learnt the language and he attained his graduation from Sierramont Middle School and Piedmont Hills High School. He also acquired his BS and MS degrees in electrical engineering from the Stanford University and became a member of the Phi Kappa Psi community too. During his study of electrical engineering, Jerry created an internet website with David Filo and named it ‘Jerry’s Guide to the world wide web’. This was later renamed as Yahoo! and as the duo realized the business potential of this venture, they founded the Yahoo! Inc. in 1995. It initially started off as a web portal accompanied by a web directory. Although, Jerry is no longer the CEO of the company, he is a member in the board of directors.

George Sorros – An American currency speculator

Apart from being a currency speculator, Soros is a stock investor, a philanthropist, entrepreneur and a political activist. He was born on the 12th of August, 1930 in Budapest, Hungary. With a fortune of an estimated $11.0 billion, George Soros is listed as the 29th richest man in the world. He is well known for his penchant for donations and since 1979, he has donated $6 billion in various causes. In the presidential election of America in 2004, he is believed to have rolled in millions, simply to bar the re-election of George Bush.

He is one amongst the three founders of the Center for American Progress and is a representative at the board. He is the chairman of the Soros Fund Management and the Open Society Institute. He has also founded Georgia’s Rose Revolution and which had an indelible political impact.

His father was a Hungarian Jew and an Esperantist writer. In 1956, Soros immigrated to New York City and began to work as an arbitrage trader. Later, he joined the Wertheim and Company as an analyst. Soros was a believer in the theory of ‘Relexivity’. Through the course of his career, Soros realized that he would be a better investor than a philosopher or executive. The journey towards becoming a millionaire began with the setting up of the First Eagle, his first investment fund.

The co-founder of Google – Sergey Brin

Sergey Brin immigrated to America when he was six years of age. He was born on the 21st of august, 1973. The world’s most prominent Internet Company characterized by its popular search engine and online advertising technology is better known as Google Inc. Brin is a Russian-American computer scientist who also happens to be the co-founder on this multi-billionaire company.

He acquired his undergraduate degree from the University of Maryland and is a double major in computer science. After completing his graduation, he shifted to Stanford to do his Ph. D in computers and came across Larry Page. A superior search engine was born when these two came together, and Brin’s data mining technique was effectively used. This program became very popular in Stanford, and Larry and Brin rented a garage and began this mission of the launch of Google. The motto of Google is “Don’t be evil” and its objective is to make information across the world “universally accessible and useful”. Brin was even referred as the “Enlightened Man” in The Economist magazine.

Sergey was born in Moscow to a mathematics professor Michael Brin and his mother was a research scientist at the University of Maryland. His father dreamt of becoming an astronomer but the Communist Party in Russia debarred Jews from holding top positions. Thus, the family was rather compelled to immigrate to the USA.