Wednesday, October 27, 2020


Tenement Museum Photo Exhibit Honors NYC's Rich Immigrant Business Owner Community

New York – NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS) Commissioner Jonnel Doris and the Tenement Museum today announced the launch of a digital exhibit to honor NYC's immigrant small business owners. The photo exhibit, called Immigrants Mean Business: An Enduring History of Entrepreneurship, features NYC immigrant business owners, sharing their stories of endurance throughout history. The exhibit is a digital version of the in-person pop-up, which ran at the Tenement Museum last year.

This exhibit follows six entrepreneurs who have weathered the COVID-19 pandemic and presents archival photos of businesses who survived previous health emergencies, including the 1832 Cholera Epidemic and 1918 Influenza Pandemic. The photos celebrate the resiliency of NYC immigrant entrepreneurs and share the stories of businesses who triumphed against tragedy.

"52% of our small businesses are immigrant-owned. New York City will remain a city that thrives on immigrant entrepreneurship" said Jonnel Doris, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services. "As an immigrant entrepreneur myself, I am proud to honor our immigrant business owners and their contributions to our city's culture and economy."

"Our mission at the Tenement Museum is to remind Americans that their personal stories are at the core of the nation's story. The generations of immigrants who followed their dreams to these shores made this country an economic colossus — and this city its most powerful entrepreneurial engine," said Morris Vogel, President of the Tenement Museum. "The risks they took make us an entrepreneurial people. The disappointments they suffered were part of the price they paid to set down roots in a new world; their triumphs serve as reminders of American possibility. All of them should inspire us as we chart the course of our own lives."

For hundreds of years, through dozens of health and economic crises, New York businesses have continually recovered from adversity. Small businesses are the backbone of NYC's economy and the immigrant business owners featured in this exhibit, highlight the foundation on which this city was built. The following present-day business owners are featured in the exhibit:

  • Atinuke Akinwunmi, Nigerian immigrant and owner of PurH20 based out of Staten Island
  • Julie Choudhury, Bangladeshi immigrant and owner of Parineeta the Bride in Queens
  • Nestor Lebron, Dominican immigrant and owner of The Barber Factory in the Bronx
  • Sufia Hossain, Bangladeshi immigrant and owner of Silly Chilly Hot Sauce in Queens
  • Yajaira Gonzalez, a Venezuelan immigrant raised in the Dominican Republic, and owner of Pop + Pour in Manhattan
  • Yudelka Carrera, Dominican immigrant and owner of Events by Yudy based out of the Bronx

As part of an ongoing commitment to serving the City's entrepreneurs, SBS offers no-cost services and resources to entrepreneurs in immigrant communities throughout the city in multiple languages, including culturally-sensitive business courses, financing assistance, pro-bono legal aid, and more. For more information, visit

For more information on the exhibit, visit

About the Department of Small Business Services (SBS)
SBS helps unlock economic potential and create economic security for all New Yorkers by connecting New Yorkers to good jobs, creating stronger businesses, and building vibrant neighborhoods across the five boroughs. For more information, visit, call 311, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

About the Tenement Museum
At a time when immigration is at the center of our national conversation, the Tenement Museum is more relevant than ever. Since 1988, the Museum has forged emotional connections between visitors and immigrants past and present, through educator-led tours of its historic tenement buildings at 97 and 103 Orchard and the surrounding neighborhood, enhancing appreciation for the vital role immigrants play in shaping the American identity. The Museum now aims to use every medium at its disposal to dramatically increase the impact of its programming — reaching millions not thousands — with its message of how immigrants built and continue to build America.