Tanzanian-Born Entrepreneur: Immigrants Aren’t Just “Giving Back to the Country, We Are Very Much a Part of the Country”

Abbas Bandali and his younger brother lived nearly parallel lives: They were both born and raised in Tanzania and attended school in England. But afterwards, Bandali’s younger brother returned to Tanzania, and Bandali ventured into an unknown future in America. “I can very easily compare and contrast my life and his life,” says Bandali. Both brothers are now business owners and family men, but Bandali says he owes so much of his success to the ample opportunities of America, where “the sky is the limit.”

While his brother may be nestled in the familiarity and nostalgia of home, “there are so many things that are important to me that I wouldn’t find there, like infrastructure, health care, and education,” says Bandali. In America, “you don’t have to bribe people to get to work.”

Not only will it stitch families back together, but it will also help a large, overlooked community make important economic and civic contributions to the United States.

Bandali, 41, has lived in the United States for the past two decades. He works as a technical lead at HomeAway, a vacation rental company. Bandali, who has always had entrepreneurial ambitions, also owns a storage business and often employs local independent contractors or larger businesses to handle the repairs and upkeep. It’s one of many ways he contributes to his community.

Outside of work, Bandali helps refugees resettle in America and learn the language and customs. “It’s not their choice; they’ve been forced to come here,” he says. “As fellow human beings, we should help out. What if we were in their shoes?”

When Bandali considers his own comparatively easy path to citizenship alongside the stories of undocumented immigrants who live with anxiety and heartache over their broken families, he wants to see the nation’s politicians act swiftly on passing comprehensive immigration reform.

“I’m all for a legal path to citizenship,” he says. Not only will it stitch families back together, but it will also help a large, overlooked community make important economic and civic contributions to the United States. As immigrants, “we came here seeking greener pastures, and not only are we giving back to the country, we are very much a part of the country.”

Bandali sees this in his own life, as an employee for a leading tech company, an entrepreneur, a volunteer, and as a husband and father to three. America was founded on “very strong immigration principles,” he says, which have made this country vibrant, diverse, and strong. Bandali believes immigration reform will help both the country and its newcomers grow in leaps and bounds.

When Bandali sees how far he has come in America, especially when compared to the daily challenges his brother faces in Tanzania, he is grateful to have put his roots down in this country. “I look at Tanzania as a great starting point, and I reminisce about my life there,” he says, “but I don’t feel I would be as successful in my life in Africa as I am over here.”

About NAE

New American Economy is a bipartisan research and advocacy organization fighting for smart federal, state, and local immigration policies that help grow our economy and create jobs for all Americans. More…