FIELD was established in 1998 to build on the work of the Self-Employment Learning Project, the leading domestic microenterprise evaluation and public education program at the time. Since its inception, FIELD has maintained a focus on the U.S. microenterprise industry - exploring innovation, evaluating new ideas, helping to build the industry's infrastructure, disseminating best practices to practitioners and serving as a resource to donors interested in microenterprise.
There are two sections to describe our work:
Microenterprise in the U.S.
This section describes some of FIELD's key work, including: early research into client and program outcomes undertaken as part of the Self-Employment Learning Project; and a more recent retrospective look at the microenterprise industry's accomplishments and challenges resulting in the publication, Opening Opportunities, Building Owenrship: Fulfilling the Promise of Microenterprise in the United States.
FIELD has engaged in a wide range of work over the years, including: making targeted grants to practitioners and intermediaries working on important challenges within the industry; studying topical issues such as the informal economy, rural entrepreneurship, and sustainability; evaluating demonstrations; and collecting and analyzing data on the microenterprise field.
FIELD has gathered resources in three key areas:
Best Practice Resources
As part of its work, FIELD has identified a number of resources (including publications, tools, and links to helpful Web sites) geared to practitioners. Resources are organized around a set of topics important to the field today, including: asset development, access to markets, enhancing performance, marketing, scaling up and sustainability.
FIELD supports donors interested in domestic microenterprise in three ways: Through the FIELD Funder Guide Series, issues and challenges facing the microenterprise field are explored and strategic opportunities for investors are identified. FIELD provides staff support to an informal Microenterprise Funders Group, which began in 2005 as a way for donors interested in the domestic microenterprise industry to share ideas, funding strategies and priorities. Finally, FIELD periodically hosts Funder Webinars to explore topics of interest to donors.
Allows entrepreneurs to locate microenterprise programs in their state and/or community via the U.S. Microenterprise Census, and to learn about MicroMentor, an innovative program offering on-line business mentoring services.