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Data for this study were collected with an original instrument designed to measure characteristics of both the firm and the business owner in the Pakistani/Ismaili business community. The design of the survey was enhanced by instruments which have been previously developed in the literature for the study of ethnic enterprise. The questionnaires were administered to the respondents by volunteer members of the Pakistani community. People involved in the survey include business owners, family members of business owners, students, and non–business owners. Eight surveys were administered face to face in the form of interviews and the remaining surveys were distributed to individuals and collected several days later. We switched to the latter procedure after determining during the pre–test that the respondents were reluctant to answer certain sensitive questions regarding personal and business finances in a face–to–face interview. We believe that by allowing the respondents to complete the survey themselves, in private, fewer questions went unanswered and the responses that we received are a truer reflection of the respondent's beliefs, attitudes, and circumstances. Ninety–two questionnaires were completed; representing approximately 31% of this particular ethnic community in this one city. This paper represents the first report from this data set and includes primarily descriptive statistics.

Comparative statistics were drawn from several sources. The Survey of Minority–Owned Business Enterprises (SMOBE) is a specialized economic census, conducted every five years to provide economic data on businesses owned by Blacks, Hispanics, and persons of Asian, Pacific Islander, American Indian, or Alaska Native descent. The race of census participants is assigned either through social security records or through a matching process with a reference list of Hispanic and Asian surnames (U.S. Department of Commerce, 1996).

The Characteristics of Business Owners is another economic census, enhanced through the combination of a mail survey with administrative records of the SMOBE and the Women–Owned Business (WOB) census. Although the categories of respondents are assigned different titles, the CBO category, "Other Minorities" equates to the American Indian, Alaska Native, Asian and Pacific islander group developed for the SMOBE.

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