What is Microenterprise?


A microenterprise is a very small business, or microbusiness. Microbusinesses are businesses requiring start-up capital of $35,000 or less and employing five or fewer people, of which one is the owner. For most microbusinesses, however, the owner is also the only employee.

Microbusinesses are integral to everyday life. Examples of microbusinesses include restaurants,  boutique clothing stores, barbershops and salons, bakeries and coffee shops, laundromats, corner stores, gardening and lawn care businesses, cleaning services, artists and musicians and many, many others!

Microenterprise supports individuals and families. By starting a microbusiness, individuals are able to engage with the financial mainstream and generate income. As a result, the owners of microbusinesses are able to earn a living, provide for their family and strengthen their community through entrepreneurship.

Microenterprise strengthens our communities and our economy. Alone, an individual microbusiness may employ only a handful of people. But together, microbusinesses represent more than 80 percent of all businesses in the United States. Thus programs and organizations that strengthen these microbusinesses impact a sector critical to our national economy. In fact, if one in three microenterprises hired just one additional employee, the nation would be at full employment (AEO, The Power of One in Three).

Updated on April 23, 2015.