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Owner of local Asian teashop testifies before US House committee

Published: Apr. 29, 2021 at 6:53 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX)-- A local business owner testified before a congressional committee about the challenges facing small immigrant-owned businesses and especially Asian and Pacific Islander-owned businesses.

Jaja Chen and her husband own Waco Cha, an Asian teashop in downtown Waco.

Chen was invited to speak Wednesday during a hearing before the U.S. House Committee on Small Business.

Lawmakers and small business owners brainstormed ideas for helping small immigrant businesses recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of Chen’s many suggestions to the committee was to focus on accessibility.

“A lot of immigrant businesses have trouble accessing funding especially with COVID-relief funding making sure that immigrants are able to access funding that they qualify for whether in their own languages or in a culturally competent kind of way,” Chen said.

Lawmakers also heard testimony about how the pandemic has specifically affected the Asian community as people early on stayed away from Asian businesses for fear of contracting the virus.

Chen said another pressing problem specifically affecting small Asian and Pacific Islander-owned businesses is the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes.

A new study found that anti-Asian hate crimes have increased by nearly 150%.

Chen said she and other Asian and Pacific Islander business owners are fearful about the safety of their employees.

Last week the U.S. Senate passed a bill to strengthen federal response to anti-Asian hate crimes.

Chen hopes her testimony will also inspire policy changes to help immigrants build better businesses.

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