Press Release: CA's Minority Entrepreneurs to Receive Millions in Investment Capital to Support State’s Move to a Low Carbon Future

Electrify California Program” Funding Announcement Part of Historic Investment by Biden-Harris Administration to Help Disadvantaged Entrepreneurs

SACRAMENTO, CALIF. (August 9, 2023) — Minority entrepreneurs in California will soon have access to millions of dollars in U.S.-backed investment capital to support their growth in California’s low carbon economy thanks to a new business incubator and accelerator program run by the CalAsian Chamber in partnership with the Fresno Metro Black Chamber, and the Northern California Small Business Development Center.

The “Electrify California” Partnership, spearheaded by the CalAsian Chamber, was announced on August 4th as one of 43 national awardees to the new U.S. Minority Business Development Agency’s (MBDA) Capital Readiness Program, a $125 million technical assistance program to help minority and other underserved entrepreneurs grow and scale their businesses – the largest investment of its type in history.  Awardees will help entrepreneurs secure capital from the $10 billion State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) and other capital sources.

“We are thrilled that the Biden-Harris Administration has selected the Electrify California business incubator and accelerator program as an effective way to help minority and disadvantaged small businesses gain entry to the massive market transition underway to a low carbon future,” said Pat Fong Kushida, President and CEO of the California Asian Pacific Chamber of Commerce (CalAsian), who was in Washington, D.C., for the awards announcement with Vice President Kamala Harris and U.S. Department of Commerce officials.  “This federal program allows us to respond directly to what minority and underserved entrepreneurs tell us they need most –access to capital and critical networks as well as high-value technical support.”

"We are humbled and thrilled to partner with the CalAsian Chamber in its efforts to Electrify California,” said Dr. Cassandra Little, CEO of the Fresno Metro Black Chamber Commerce.  “We recognize that diversity and inclusion are integral to unlocking the full potential of sustainable energy solutions.  We aim to build an equitable, cleaner, and more vibrant future for our state and beyond through our Transform Fresno - Bizwerx Clean Shared Mobility Network EV Accelerator to reinforce our commitment to revolutionize California's electric vehicle landscape."

“We are extremely excited to work with CA Asian Chamber of Commerce and provide business loan advice to minority and underserved businesses focusing on connecting them to SSBCI lenders,” said Kristin Johnson, Executive Director of Norcal Small Business Development Centers (SBDC).

Electrify California is a fully integrated finance and technical assistance program providing both early-stage incubator services and emerging company accelerator services to socially and economically disadvantaged individual (SEDI) entrepreneurs, with plans to assist over 1,200 entrepreneurs over four years with credit and capital access combined with hands-on business support to enter and expand in low carbon economy growth industries.

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 re-authorized the Department of Treasury’s SSBCI program to help revive entrepreneurship in America after the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic.  SSBCI provides a combined $10 billion to empower small businesses to access capital, including credit and investment programs for existing small businesses and start-ups and technical assistance to small businesses applying for SSBCI funding and other government small business programs.

To learn more about the MBDA Capital Readiness Program, click here.

Press Release: Awardees Announced for the 2023 California Diversity Awards

SACRAMENTO, CALIF. (June 6, 2023) — The 2023 California Diversity Awards will take place on June 29, 2023, hosted in partnership by the California African AmericanAsian Pacific, and Hispanic Chambers of Commerce. The awards recognize individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to promoting diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) across California. After a selection committee reviewed all nominations, the Chambers are proud to announce this year’s awardees:

  • Public Official: Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis
  • Community Organization: California Farmworker Foundation
  • Corporation: Banc of California

Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis has been a strong advocate for DE&I in her role at the State Capitol. Her work within higher education has resulted in greater accessibility and diversity in admissions at statewide universities and colleges. The Lt. Governor has worked alongside Governor Gavin Newsom to promote equality and opportunity for all Californians.

The California Farmworker Foundation (CFF) is a leader in promoting the rights and well-being of California farmworkers. CFF serves historically underserved populations and provides solutions for community-wide issues such as housing, food insecurity and healthcare. They empower individuals to become advocates for themselves and their communities in the farm-working industry.

Banc of California (BOC) is committed to helping their clients and communities thrive. In 2022, BOC launched a $1.4 billion Community Benefits Plan to further this work. Additionally, BOC supports initiatives and organizations tackling important issues such as affordable housing, financial literacy, workforce development and helping small businesses led by women and people of color.

This achievement for the awardees was recognized by Pat Fong Kushida, President & CEO of the California Asian Pacific Chamber of Commerce, Ahmad Holmes, Interim COO of the California African American Chamber of Commerce and Julian Cañete, President & CEO of the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce in a joint statement.

“As one of the most diverse states in the nation, Californians deserve leaders who are committed to prioritizing diversity, equity and inclusion. It is a great privilege to recognize and honor these dedicated individuals and organizations who are championing our state’s diverse communities.”

The 2023 California Diversity Awards winners will be recognized during a private event in Downtown Sacramento. More information about the event is available at

Press Release: CalAsian Chamber Names New Director Of Public Policy

SACRAMENTO, CALIF. (June 5, 2023) — The California Asian Pacific Chamber of Commerce (CalAsian Chamber) is pleased to announce the promotion of Andrea Cao to Director of Public Policy. Cao joined the CalAsian Chamber in March 2022 as the Public Policy Manager and was promoted to Senior Public Policy Manager in September 2022.

Cao has played an integral role at the CalAsian Chamber, including leading the public policy team during the signing of Assembly Bill 2019, the Chamber’s first co-sponsored bill signed by Governor Gavin Newsom.

“Andrea has brought an invaluable energy and dedication to our public policy team,” said Pat Fong Kushida, President & CEO of the CalAsian Chamber. “I am excited to see her take on this new position and play an instrumental role in shaping policies for our business community.”

In her new role as Director of Public Policy, Cao will lead the Chamber’s advocacy efforts and policy initiatives at the local and state levels. Currently, her work focuses on advancing Assembly Bill 1198 and Assembly Bill 258. Both bills are co-sponsored by the CalAsian Chamber and aim to create more equitable opportunities for small business owners in the state.

“Lobbying the legislature requires perseverance and determination,” said Chris Bollinger, the Interim Vice President of Public Policy at the CalAsian Chamber. “Andrea has demonstrated this tenacity, and I am thrilled to see her grow in her role as an advocate.”

Cao continues to work closely with government officials, community leaders and statewide partners to promote policies that support the success of diverse small businesses in California.

“I have had the pleasure of working with Andrea since 2022 to advance the CalAsian Chamber’s co-sponsored bills and advocacy efforts,” said Andrea Deveau, President, California at Strategies 360. “She is committed to driving change and will undoubtedly continue to thrive in her work.”

Before joining the CalAsian Chamber, Cao worked in event management and marketing within the private sector. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Cognitive Science from the University of California, Merced.

Press Release: Assembly Bill 258 Advances To The Senate

SACRAMENTO, CALIF. (June 2, 2023) — The California Asian Pacific Chamber of Commerce's (CalAsian Chamber) co-sponsored bill, Assembly Bill (AB) 258 (Reyes), in partnership with the California African American and Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, has passed out of the Assembly Floor without a single "no" vote and is headed to the Senate.

AB 258 aims to make necessary improvements to support minority-owned businesses and make state resources more accessible for the communities that need it most. Many small businesses in California who are looking to partner with the state do not have the technical expertise to navigate the necessary state processes such as access to technical assistance, the procurement process and locating grants. Democratizing and illuminating state processes will give small businesses more opportunities to grow and ensure public resources are reaching are reaching the hardest hit communities.

“I introduced this legislation after hearing from Inland Empire small businesses about how a state-administered small business portal could best support them, and I am grateful that my Assembly colleagues throughout California agree on its value,” said Reyes. “I thank the California Asian Pacific, African American and Hispanic Chambers of Commerce for co-sponsoring this bill, as their support proves that its aims truly reflect California’s diversity and goals. With AB 258, small businesses will be better equipped to find state resources and navigate state processes, providing them with more growth opportunities. By focusing on our most impacted communities of minorities, women and veterans, this bill can stimulate California’s entire economy.”

The President & CEO of the CalAsian Chamber, Pat Fong Kushida, noted the impact this bill would make for small businesses across the state.

"Small business owners play a critical role in our economy and society, yet they face significant barriers when trying to access state resources and programs," Kushida said. "With AB 258, we hope to close this accessibility gap and give small businesses equal opportunities to thrive."

Supporters of the bill can join the CalAsian Chamber's growing coalition of small business advocates by emailing Andrea Cao, Director of Public Policy, at, with first and last name, job title, organization name and logo.  

The AAPI Stories that Shaped California

As Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month comes to a close, we're taking a moment to recognize those who are advocating for AAPIs everywhere. Each person on this list has contributed to California’s AAPI history and today’s work toward social justice. While there is still much work to do, these Californians each played a role in making this month a true celebration of our vibrant AAPI community.


Yuri Kochiyama


Born in California to Japanese immigrant parents, Yuri Kochiyama was a Japanese American civil rights activist who supported political prisoners and victims of FBI oppression. She also founded the Day of Remembrance Committee in New York City to commemorate the day President Franklin Roosevelt signedExecutive Order 9066, which cause the forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII. Kochiyama was also one of 1,000 women given a Nobel Peace Prize through the "1,000 Women for the Nobel Peace Prize 2005" project. While her philosophy has been met with some controversy, she spent her life building bridges for the oppressed to cross.


Emma Gee and Yuji Ichioka

Unknown and (1936-2002)

Emma Gee and Yuji Ichioka formed the Asian American Political Alliance at University of California, Berkeley, which was the first university to use the term “Asian-American.” During this time, political demonstrations were fairly apparent but were not effective as there was no connection between subgroups. By creating the term Asian-American, other racist and derogatory terms were left behind and subgroups were united. Gee and Ichioka both became professors at UC Berkeley and after that, they then taught the first Asian American Studies course at University of California, Los Angeles.


Haing S. Ngor


Haing S. Ngor was a Cambodian American gynecologist/obstetrician, actor, and author. Before coming to the U.S., he lived under the Khmer Rouge regime and survived torture and imprisonment. After the fall, he worked as a refugee camp doctor in Thailand and later left with his niece to the U.S. where he was cast as Dith Pran in The Killing Fields (1984); a film showing the life of Cambodian journalist and refugee Dith Pran. He received many awards and honors after this role, including the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor (he was first Asian to win in a debut role). He originally was not interested in acting but decided he wanted to show the world the horrors of the Khmer Rouge’s communist regime. After this, he starred in many other projects that showed the stories of Asian immigrants.


Cecilia Chung

Cecilia Chung is a San Francisco-based civil rights leader and activist for LGBTQ+ rights, HIV/AIDS awareness, health advocacy ,and social justice. She is the first transgender woman and Asian person to be elected to the SF Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Celebration. Chung has tirelessly advocated for health issues that affect the LGBTQ+ community and was appointed under former President Barack Obama to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDs.


Mike Iupati

Mike Iupati is Samoan-American former football player who grew up in Southern California. He spent most of his career with the San Francisco 49ers as their first-round draft pick. He was born and raised in Vaitogi, American Samoa and brought his culture to the NFL. After moving to the U.S., Iupati had struggled in school as English was not his first language. It was not until a half-Samoan coach connected with him and realized his potential for college and higher education. Following his career with the NFL, Iupati continued to represent his Samoan heritage, and also lends his advocacy influence as a strong supporter of the Kristin’s Fund mission to end the cycle of domestic violence.


Connie Chung Joe

Connie Chung Joe is the CEO for Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Southern California. Joe has been working her entire professional life to help the underserved Asian population. As the CEO, she has worked to quadruple the Korean American Family Service budget. She also co-founded the API Human Trafficking Task Force of LA County, and has co-chaired a number of Asian and Pacific Islander serving committees. Joe began her work as a public service lawyer helping immigrant families, especially those struggling with mental health, domestic/family violence, and acculturation stresses to obtain responsive services.


Henry Der

Henry Der is the former Executive Director of Chinese for Affirmative Action. During his time at Chinese for Affirmative Action, he worked with colleagues to form the End National Security Scapegoating (ENSS) coalition. They work to advocate for government accountability, oppose efforts to racial profiling, and build alliances across affected communities. Der now serves as Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction for the California Department of Education. As Deputy Superintendent. he specializes in running programs for at-risk and special needs students. He also helped campaign for the new City College Chinatown/North Beach campus which will serve more than 6,500 adult immigrant students every semester.


Barnali Ghosh and Anirvan Chatterjee

Barnali Ghosh and Anirvan Chatterjee are Bay Area activists and community-based historians. They have worked on more than a dozen South Asian American campaigns and groups that investigate issues regarding social justice, feminism, LGBTQ+, environmental, and arts. They are most known for their walking tours that show the oppression South Asians have faced in history and attempt to expel the model minority myth.


Ana Iwataki

Ana Iwataki is a writer, curator, and organizer from Los Angeles. Her work is rooted in diasporic culture and hyperlocal contexts. She was the consultant for the ACLU of Southern California’s inaugural Artist-In-Residence program. As a community organizer, she focuses her energy on Little Tokyo, Los Angeles. Recently, Iwataki has been working in J-Town to provide affordable housing to the residents.


Prerna Lal

Prerna Lal is the founder of DreamActivist, an advocacy group dedicated to undocumented youth. Lal began their work as an immigration lawyer due to their own experience as an undocumented immigrant. They founded Dream Activist after the social discussions caused by the DREAM Act in 2008. To convey the organization’s powerful message, they use storytelling and social media. Following graduation from law school, Lal received the Justice Thurgood Marshall Distinguished Accomplishment Award in Civil Rights and Civil Liberties for their immigration and LGBTQ+ work.


Chanchanit Martorell

Chanchanit Martorell is urban planner and community development practitioner who also created and taught the first Thai American Experience course at UCLA. She is an immigrant from Thailand who grew up in California and now has served a multitude of organizations that are dedicated to community, immigrants, and labor rights. She has also co-founded several organizations such as the Asian Pacific Islander Small Business Program and the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking. During Thailand’s military coup, she mobilized the SoCal Thai community in protest, which led to her founding and becoming the Executive Director of the Thai Community Development Center.


Thenmozhi Soundararajan

Thenmozhi Soundararajan is an Indian American Dalit who has worked toward caste abolition. She co-authored several reports that entail hate speech, disinformation on social media, and caste-based harassment in the tech industry. Soundararajan authored the book, “The Trauma of Caste” which looks at intersectionality of caste, gender, and mental health. She is also the founder of Equality Labs which is the largest Dalit civil rights organization in the U.S.



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Written by: Sia Patel