SAPNA DC Sparks South Asian Professionals


April 2, 2013

By Special Correspondent & Columnist, Sam Prasad Jillella

April 2, 2013

By Special Correspondent & Columnist, Sam Prasad Jillella

Commemorated its second anniversary, the South Asian Professional Networking Association of District of Columbia (SAPNA DC), has been stimulating the South Asians to network, collaborate, and empower themselves. Raaghavan Chellappan, the organization’s co-founder, says: “There’s lot more to be done.” 

VIENNA, VA — The first South Asians came to the US over a century ago. They were mostly Punjabi Sikhs, living in British Hong Kong, who came as agricultural workers. Many of them settled in farms in the state of California. They were not allowed to bring their families, and prejudice against Asians in the US, at that time, was rampant.

After 1965, due to favorable new immigration laws, many educated South Asian professionals came to the US.

An important reason for South Asians to become successful professionals is their ability to communicate in English. South Asia, being a part of the British Empire for centuries, is English-speaking. Students in South Asian learn math and science in English, which is an asset in the US.

South Asians, now, are among the fastest growing communities in the US, especially in Metro Washington. More and more South Asian entrepreneurs are venturing into professional vocations and businesses.

Small businesses empower most of the American immigrant communities.

According to the Selig Center for Economic Growth, at Terry College of Business, University of Georgia, the buying power of minorities in the U.S has grown into a diverse and formidable consumer market in the last decade.

Jeff Humphreys, director of the Selig Center and author of the Selig Center’s annual ‘Multicultural Economy’ report, says: “The numbers are impressive.”

Humphrey’s report includes state-by-state projections of buying power for the nation’s four most populous minority groups — Hispanics, African American, Asian and American Indian. Asian Americans, the third largest minority group has achieved a 165 percent gain in buying power between 2000 and 2012 and will reach $1 trillion in 2017. The U.S. Asian market is already larger than the economies of all but 17 countries in the world.

The Selig Center’s demographic studies reveal that 52 percent of Asians over 25 had a bachelor’s or advanced degree.

SAPNA DC members connecting and networking

SAPNA DC assumes the task of empowering South Asians by connecting them, providing a dynamic and supportive environment that nurtures them to specialize in areas of their choice. Raaghavan  Chellappan and Sibtain Kazmi cofounded SAPNA DC, and manage it.

SAPNA DC co-founders: (Left to Right) Sibtain Kazmi and Raaghavan  Chellappan

Chellappan, senior director for OrangeSoft Technologies, an information technology and management firm, also co-founded MyDosti.Com, Inc, a fast growing, entertainment and social networking platform,

Kazmi, CEO of A Money Matter Mortgage, Inc, is also the originator of the Miss India DC Pageant that provides young Indian women the opportunity to display their talents.

The SAPNA DC’s second annual conference, held at the Tower Club in Vienna, VA, on March 27th was attended by more than 75 professionals and business owners of Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, Nepali, Bangladeshi, and African descent.

The event featured guest speakers providing an opportunity for the business owners to enhance their network.

John Kelly : TB Bak Commercial Lending Vice President

John Kelly of TD Bank said: “Small businesses among South Asian Communities are fast growing, and TD Bank’s goal is to support them.”

JoAnna Mason: TD Bank, Arlington Branch Store Manager

JoAnna Mason, Vice President, TD Bank, Arlington Branch Store Manager has been associated with SAPNA DC since its beginning. Mason says, “Networking does work. In fact, I first met SAPNA DC co-founder, Raaghavan Chellappan, at a networking event.TD Bank welcomes the opportunity to be part of SAPNA DC. TD Bank looks forward to supporting professionals.”

Tom Azcona: Owner of ‘Plan Ahead Events, DC Metro

Tom Azcona , owner of ‘Plan Ahead Events,’ an event-management company in Metro Washington, said: “ I am happy to collaborate with SAPNA DC and MYDOSTI.COM, and look forward to growing as the platform grows.”

Niraj Mehta: BDO, Wells Fargo, SBA Lending

Niraj Mehta, Business Development Officer of Wells Fargo Small Business Association Lending, “The purpose of SBA Lending program helps start-up small and midsize companies, and welcomes the opportunity to work with the members of SAPNA DC.”

Promod Sharma: Founder and chairman of ACT-NOW DC

Promod Sharma, founder and chairman of ACT-NOW DC, invited South Asian Business communities to support ACT-NOW DC abolish child trafficking.

Metro Washington’s South Asian business owners and professionals are invited to visit the website ( to learn about the support they can avail to empower themselves.

South Asians, “Empower” yourself: Now is the time!

Community Special by MYDOSTI.COM