Samiullah Zaman The American dream, one step at a time
By Erica Garcia

(MONEY Magazine) – Samiullah Zaman, 36, is not afraid to take a chance. Sixteen years ago, he arrived in New York City from his native Afghanistan speaking not a word of English. In 1995 he took his savings, got a bank loan and borrowed from friends and family, all to bid on a New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission medallion. His winning bid was $178,000. This spring one of these cab licenses went for $311,000. What seemed like a king's ransom then has more than paid off over the years, Zaman says. For one thing, he used the medallion as collateral to buy a home. For another, driving the cab 12 or 13 hours a day, six or seven days a week, brings in about $65,000 in a good year. That may not count as the American dream for some, but for Zaman, earning a living and saving for his children's future is enough. "I'm successful," he says. "I have a home. I pay my bills. I have my family and I'm free." --E.G.