In the economic and community development world, something known as Microenterprise has become all the rage. There are an estimated ten million microentrepreneurs in the United States today, and the number is growing along with lenders and assistance programs to help them. Microentrepreneurs come from all walks of life—people seeking to start businesses or to use existing skills toward supplementing their incomes. These business people offer services ranging from car repair to day care programs, and products ranging from specialty foods to clothing.
In many successful microenterprise programs it all begins with business training and investment in ordinary people in a place called a “business incubator.” While this may conjure up some wild images, a business incubator is simply a place where microentrepreneurs go to grow their business. Incubators provide space to work, and supply services such as technical support, telephone, office equipment such as computers and copiers, and most important, an environment that is conducive to success.
While microenterprise is a common outlet for progressive or displaced workers, development really shines for those who are disadvantaged—and located in minority communities that are seeking to renew themselves. Self employment is one way to earn extra income to supplement low wages typical for those lacking a college degree. Women with families choose self employment for the flexibility they need to balance home and work responsibilities. Individuals with disabilities find economic independence through business ownership. And most importantly, for many low income people, microenterprise offers the chance to use talents, realize suppressed dreams and find fulfillment that is rarely possible with their options in the current labor market. Continue reading “Small Investment Yields Big Returns” »