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Unformatted text preview: http://edq.sagepub.com Economic Development Quarterly DOI: 10.1177/0891242406289355 2006; 20; 351 Economic Development Quarterly Lisa J. Servon Microenterprise Development in the United States: Current Challenges and New Directions http://edq.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/20/4/351 The online version of this article can be found at: Published by: http://www.sagepublications.com can be found at: Economic Development Quarterly Additional services and information for http://edq.sagepub.com/cgi/alerts Email Alerts: http://edq.sagepub.com/subscriptions Subscriptions: http://www.sagepub.com/journalsReprints.nav Reprints: http://www.sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.nav Permissions: http://edq.sagepub.com/cgi/content/refs/20/4/351 SAGE Journals Online and HighWire Press platforms): (this article cites 10 articles hosted on the Citations 2006 SAGE Publications. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution. by on December 9, 2007 http://edq.sagepub.com Downloaded from Microenterprise Development in the United States: Current Challenges and New Directions Lisa J. Servon New School University U.S. microenterprise programs provide business training, small amounts of credit ($35,000 or less), or both to businesses with five or fewer employees. As the microen- terprise field nears the end of its second decade in the United States, experts and practitioners agree that the field is in a difficult place; there appears to be relatively widespread agreement on the nature of the problems, which include a lack of stan- dardized data, decreasing funding from some key sectors, increased competition, and difficulty in reaching the target market. The author argues that if the microen- terprise field does not make some significant changes, it will neither sustain itself nor approach its potential. Strategies to address these challenges fall into three broad categories: restructuring, innovation, and accreditation and standardization. Keywords: Microenterprise; community development; economic development The U.S. microenterprise field is at a crossroads. Nearly 20 years after its inception, the number of programs within the field has grown to more than 550. Initial goals of scale and sustainabil- ity remain elusive, however. Practitioners and field experts are currently examining whether these goals remain appropriate. The environment in which U.S. microenterprise programs now operate is markedly different from the one in which they were initiated (Association for Enterprise Opportunity [AEO], 2002; Moy & Okagaki, 2001). It is characterized by greater sophistication, professionalization, and infrastructure but also by a challenging funding environ- ment and a lack of appropriate incentives for the field to move forward....
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