A Census of Microenterprise in the U.S. and Virginia

Microenterprises, businesses with five or fewer employees, are probably some of the most common business start-ups on Virginia’s Main streets. These scrappy entrepreneurs bring energy and new ideas to empty store fronts and formerly boarded up buildings. So, it’s probably a good idea to know how the organizations that assist microentrepreneurs are doing. 

And that is what you get in the recently published 2011 U.S. Microenterprise Census from the FIELD Program at the Aspen Institute.

The trend data, comparing the responses of organizations that reported to both the 2008 and 2010 surveys, is promising, showing that nationally the survey respondents:

  • Increased the annual number of individuals assisted by 15%;
  • Increased the size of their operating budgets by 16%;
  • Increased the number of microloans disbursed by 25%;
  • Increased the dollar value of microloans disbursed by 23%;
  • Increased their outstanding microloan portfolios by 26%; and,
  • Increased their total microloan capital by 21%.

The census also showed that in 2010, microenterprise programs offered a variety of microfinancing products, including microloans (64%), credit build loans (22%), microgrants (10%), microequity (10%), small business loans (28%) and individual development accounts (25%). The median average loan size increased slightly from $13,111 in 2008 to $14,172 in 2010.

Nearly all of the survey respondents provide business development technical assistance (90%) and training (83%). 65% provide business development mentoring, and an increasing number provide financial literacy training (61%) and credit counseling (37%).

The microTracker website allows you to review the information reported and compiled in the 2011 U.S. Microenterprise Census, including the data for each state. For example, in 2010, the 11 Virginia microenterprise development organizations that reported information for the census disbursed a total of 221 loans, with a median loan size of $14,187. These organizations also reported $7.7 million in total microloans outstanding and 4,534 individuals and 745 businesses served via a combination of business development services and microfinancing.

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