Microenterprise in the United States

FIELD has played a preeminent role in researching and documenting the microenterprise field in the United States. Our research has examined the growth and development of microenterprise organizations; the characteristics of the clients reached; the outcomes experienced by program clients; the role that microenterprise development can play in addressing key challenges such as creating jobs, improving job quality, and creating wealth; and the challenges faced by the microenterprise field as it seeks to expand and adjust to changing market conditions.

Quick Resources

  • Learn about the size, scope and growth of the US microenterprise field, by starting with the most recent findings from the US Microenterprise Census on the data highlights section of our site. To explore in greater depth, check out our microTracker.org web site and our publications on industry program performance.
  • Explore the outcomes experienced by entrepreneurs who engage with microenterprise programs by checking out our EntrepreneurTracker data highlights.  You can also visit microTracker.org and our extensive body of work on microenterprise client outcomes.
  • Learn about microenterprise development and job creation from our most recent EntrepreneurTracker data highlights, our research paper on Microenterprise Development as Job Creation, and our MicroJobs, Fast Facts infographic.
  • Explore the quality of microbusiness jobs by visiting our gainfuljobs.org web site.
  • Learn about the informal economy and microenterprise, by accessing recordings of recent events that explore the growing role of the 1099 and sharing economy in the United States, or our past research on the informal economy and microenterprise. 
  • Access our work on rural entrepreneurship.  

Our Early Work

Interested in knowing more about the early work of the US microenterprise field? The following are some of the seminal findings from FIELD’s early research: 

Opening Opportunities, Building Ownership: Fulfilling the Promise of Microenterprise in the United States – an in-depth evaluation of the US microenterprise field at the 20 year mark in its history.


Download Executive Summary
Download Full Report





Microenterprise and the Poor: Findings from the Self-Employment Learning Project Five Year Survey of Microentrepreneurs (1999)
Documents the experiences of 133 individuals who attempted to escape poverty through entrepreneurship. Results from the Self-Employment Learning Project are presented describing the outcomes of poor entrepreneurs and their businesses over a five-year period.

Download Executive Summary