Small-Business Ambassador
By Phaedra Hise

(FORTUNE Small Business) – Salvador Guzman, 46 Guzman Group of Mexican restaurants Nashville

I OPENED CAMINO REAL, MY first Mexican restaurant, in Franklin, Tenn., in 1991. Now I have 14 restaurants across the region, and I own the first Spanish-language radio station in the state.

I was a veterinarian in Mexico but could never bring in a satisfactory income. When the peso was devalued in the mid-1980s, interest rates on my business loans kept rising, from 32% to 90% a year. I came to the U.S. when a friend of mine in Chattanooga offered me a job as a busboy in a Mexican restaurant. I was planning to stay for two years and save enough to buy a house in Mexico. But when I noticed that the owner was two years younger than me, it turned around my way of thinking. I left and started my first restaurant with three partners and my savings of $18,000.

I was the first person from Degollado, Jalisco, to own a restaurant in the U.S. Now there are more than 100 restaurants scattered across the U.S. owned by people from my hometown. They became restaurant owners because they saw me doing it. Now they inspire others. Mexican immigrants are used to working hard.

Total amount of loans given by Acción USA, the country's largest microlender, through September 2006 $170 MILLION

Percentage of microloans given to members of ethnic minorities 89%

BIZ WITHOUT BORDERS Number of startups per 100,000 people

National average

Native-born Americans 280

Immigrants 350

SOURCE: Kauffman Foundation (kauffman.org)

Number of self-employed immigrants

1.5 million (1995) to 2.4 million (2005)

SOURCE: SBA

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Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.