Microbusiness Research and Policy

The Aspen Institute and the Corporation for Enterprise Development were the catalyst for the Microbusiness industry and the FIELD division of the Aspen Institute has served as the research arm. We’ve culled FIELD’s research and posted the more current and relevant reports on a special FIELD page.

CAMEO White Paper: Download Do-It-Yourself Economic Growth: How Communities Can Cultivate Their Talent and Thrive. Read it. Use it as a resource. Share it. The Do-It-Yourself Economy is built on a foundation of small, locally-owned, diverse businesses. CAMEO’s white paper focuses on why we need a new approach to economic development, explains the reality of small business and self-employment labor market trends, and delineates some of the tools that local economic developers can use to create a sustainable future for their regions.



2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2001


  • Joint Small Business Credit Report, 2014 January 26, 2015

    Since 2010, the Federal Reserve has been monitoring small business credit conditions through regional surveys of business owners. In 2014, the Federal Reserve Banks of New York, Atlanta, Cleveland, and Philadelphia collaborated on a common small business credit survey to cover much of the eastern region of the U.S. The survey offers insight about the ...


  • The Bottom Line: Investing for Impact on Inequality in the U.S. December 17, 2014

    The Bottom Line: Investing for Impact on Economic Mobility in the U.S. draws on the lessons from market-based approaches to identify tools and strategies that can help move the needle on family economic security.

  • Student Debt Among Young Entrepreneurs November 23, 2014

    A quick run down of the ways that student debt and entrepreneurship interact.

  • Barriers to Women’s Entrepreneurship July 23, 2014

    Women entrepreneurs still face challenges getting fair access to capital. Only 4 percent of the total dollar value of all small business loans goes to women entrepreneurs. The report proposes expanding microloans and makes SBA’s Intermediary Loan Program permanent to provide more capital to women entrepreneurs.

  • Women’s Economic Priorities July 21, 2014

    Women are an important force in America who have, for too long, been undervalued and underrepresented in political leadership and policy making. Our multi-decade march into the American workforce, business ownership, household leadership and consumer spending has elevated women into true leadership of the American economy. The purpose of this report is to highlight the ...

  • Research: In Search of Solid Ground April 23, 2014

    The latest report from CFED looks at how micro-businesses manage their finances, the major financial challenges they face, and which components of financial capability help them succeed.

  • Women’s Business Centers Factsheet March 22, 2014

    The SBA’s Women’s Business Center (WBC) Program supports 106 nonprofit organizations that provide business training and counseling to female entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs, which includes women in underserved communities. The program is supported by the Small Business Administration and matched by donations.


  • Small Business Access to Credit December 23, 2013

    The California Reinvestment Coalition’s (CRC) 2010 economic development report documented a dramatic two-thirds plunge in critical bank lending to California small businesses between 2007 and 2009; businesses that are universally seen as the engine of economic recovery. This report unveils the appalling continuing reality that today’s bank lending to small businesses shows only the barest ...

  • Micro-Businesses: America’s Growth Engine November 23, 2013

    This report examines growth trends for small and micro businesses in recent years, the sector’s need for liability protection to increase revenue and retain customers, and the role insurance advisors can play in facilitating micro business growth.

  • 2013 California Economic Summit Playbook November 23, 2013

    As it did in 2012, the Summit is tapping into California’s most vital resource—its people—to identify shared problems and to develop a shared agenda that will lay the foundation for a future of well-paying jobs, a sustainable environment, and equal opportunities for every Californian.

  • Etsy: Redefining Entrepreneurship November 22, 2013

    Etsy is an online marketplace where artists and collectors sell their handmade goods, vintage items and craft supplies. Founded in June 2005, Etsy now includes more than 20 million products and over one million sellers worldwide. In the last year alone, they generated over $895 million in sales. A survey of 5,500 U.S. sellers reveals ...

  • Emerging Lessons: Bundled Service Delivery September 22, 2013

    This case study is a detailed analysis of one community-based organization’s approach to creating a bundled service delivery model, with a particular focus on the set of services and systems targeted at entrepreneurs. This case study is intended to be a resource that captures and shares many of the lessons from CFED’s partnership with MEDA ...

  • Investing Locally September 22, 2013

    Does microenterprise have an impact on the local economy? Comparisons of the economic impact of independent businesses and national chains have demonstrated that independent businesses contribute more (in relation to both sales and square footage) to the local economy because they tend to purchase more local goods and services and create more local jobs.

  • Entrepreneurship in Rural America September 10, 2013

    Community affairs offices at the Board and Reserve Banks engage in a wide variety of activities to help financial institutions, community-based organizations, government entities, and the public understand and address financial services issues that affect low- and moderate-income people and geographic regions.

  • Locally Owned: It Matters August 31, 2013

    Anil Rupasingha, PhD Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta
    Local entrepreneurship matters for local economic performance and smaller local businesses are more important than larger local businesses for local economic performance.

  • How Much Does Credit Matter? August 28, 2013

    Cesare Fracassi and Shimon Kogan, UT Austin; Mark Garmaise, UCLA Anderson; Gabriel Natividad, NYU Stern
    A team of researchers digs into five years worth of lending data from Accion Texas and reports that startup small businesses that receive a microloan are dramatically more likely to survive, enjoy higher revenues and create more jobs.

  • Scaling through Distance Learning August 23, 2013

    Microenterprise development organizations (MDOs) are adept at doing more with less. Compelled by the drive to serve larger numbers of aspiring entrepreneurs amid a tighter funding environment, many are, not surprisingly, looking more closely at distance learning. Both urban and rural programs have grown geographically by establishing branch or regional offices wherever potential clients work ...

  • Ready to Grow: Women Small Business Owners August 10, 2013

    Women play a central role in rebuilding the middle class and keeping our economy growing. As women continue to start businesses in this country, it is imperative they have the right tools to be successful. But do they? Business and Professional Women’s (BPW) Foundation began to explore this question by conducting a brief poll among ...

  • ‘Shop Local’ Studies from ILSR June 1, 2013

    ILSR’s annual survey has found that independent businesses experienced solid revenue growth in 2012, buoyed in part by “buy local first” initiatives.

  • 2011 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor United States Report March 22, 2013

    During the summer of 2011, the United States participated in the 13th annual cycle of the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) research. Across the globe, 54 economies participated in the survey, spanning diverse geographies and a range of development levels. In the United States over 5,800 adults between the ages of 18 and 99 were interviewed.

  • 2012 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor Report March 1, 2013

    The GEM study is uniquely positioned to advance understanding about entrepreneurship and facilitate decisions and initiatives that promote these endeavours. Each year, GEM provides a broad array of data on societal attitudes, participation levels of individuals at different stages of the entrepreneurship process and the characteristics of entrepreneurs and their businesses. This information can enable ...

  • The State of Entrepreneurship in PDX February 13, 2013

    The State of Entrepreneurship in Portland reviews the current environment for entrepreneurship in Portland and defines an action plan to complement the City’s target industry cluster and neighborhood economic development strategies and catalytic redevelopment efforts.

  • The Civic Economics of Retail January 1, 2013

    A solid review of several foundational studies on the costs and benefits to cities of locally-owned businesses versus larger chain stores from Civic Economics.


  • 2012 National Women’s Business Council Annual Report December 12, 2012

    By all measures 2012 has been a year of opportunity and challenge, both abroad and on our shores. It was a year that brought with it many important issues: uncertainty in the world economy, volatility in financial markets, unrest in multiple areas of the world, a much anticipated election cycle here in the United States, ...

  • The State of Working America: Jobs November 22, 2012

    In periods of full employment, a healthy employment growth rate would be one that simply matches the growth rate of the labor force. But, contrary to assumptions often made by economists and policymakers, full employment is the exception rather than the rule in the U.S. labor market. An implicit message of this chapter is that ...

  • Entrepreneur Development Opportunities November 1, 2012

    Entrepreneurs – including business, civic and social entrepreneurs, are central to bringing about fundamental change and innovation enabling local, regional and national recovery and longer-term prosperity. This paper explores entrepreneurial talent emerging from the Great Recession.

  • The Financial Crisis and Small Business November 1, 2012

    How did the financial crisis that began in 2008 affect credit markets in the U.S.? Anecdotal evidence suggested that small businesses, which largely rely upon banks for credit, were especially hard hit. In this study, the SBA analyzes data on small-business lending collected by U.S. banking regulators to provide new evidence on how bank credit, ...

  • Bay Area Economic Assessment October 3, 2012

    This study finds that the Bay Area enjoys unique economic assets that have enabled it to prosper across economic cycles. It finds that a strategic focus on the sectors where it is most competitive and which have defined its global leadership offers the best opportunity to generate future jobs and growth. It also finds growing ...

  • SBA Veterans Assistance Programs September 4, 2012

    Robert Jay Dilger and Sean Lowry of the Congressional Research Service examine the current state of SBA veteran loan programs, and consider whether, as some members of Congress have suggested, combining the program with other services would increase government efficiency.

  • Fast Facts on the California Economy September 1, 2012

    California’s economy is one of the ninth largest in the world with a 2011 gross state product (GDP) of $1.95 trillion. In August 2012, the California unemployment rate decreased to 10.6%. The figure represented a 12,000 job increase over the prior month, leaving 1.9 million unemployed workers. The national unemployment rate decreased to 8.1% over ...

  • Guide to Going Local August 30, 2012

    We say we want vibrant local economies, healthy neighborhoods and downtown areas, and less sprawl into our outlying green spaces— but we don’t always support the existing local options that will help us realize this vision. Why does “going local” matter?

  • Open for Business August 23, 2012

    Robert Fairlie, writing for the Partnership for a New American Economy, looks at how immigrant-owned small and micro-businesses are driving job creation and growth in the United States.

  • White House Small Business Report May 24, 2012

    President Obama’s plan for supporting small and micro-businesses as they create jobs and drive innovation.

  • BoA: Small Business Report May 23, 2012

    Bank of America reports on small and micro-business owners, operators and entrepreneurs.

  • Immigrant Entrepreneurs, Capital Access May 3, 2012

    Robert Fairlie of the Small Business Administration looks at how immigrant-owned businesses shape the economy.

  • The State of Business Development May 1, 2012

    FIELD has released their findings from last year’s microenterprise Census, and so we take a look back at their 2012 report discussing business development services in the sector.

  • Regional Food Hub Resource Guide April 23, 2012

    The USDA guide for food entrepreneurs and their supporters interested in starting or expanding food hubs.

  • Partnerships You Can Bank On March 27, 2012

    This report for the CFED looks at the Bank On programs that first emerged in San Francisco and have since moved piecemeal across the country.

  • The State of Women-Owned Businesses, 2012 March 21, 2012

    American Express OPEN provides stakeholders in the women’s enterprise development community with an up-to-date accounting of the state of women-owned businesses in the United States in 2012, building upon the great interest and success of its inaugural effort in 2011.

  • Declining Size of Establishments March 16, 2012

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics examines the trend of businesses growing smaller, not larger, over the last two decades.

  • Veteran-owned Businesses March 15, 2012

    The SBA’s office of advocacy reports on veteran-owned businesses and micro-businesses and entrepreneurship within the veteran community.

  • Empowering Entrepreneurs At Tax Time February 13, 2012

    A report from the Center for Enterprise Development on tax preparation and small business.

  • Falling Behind: Women and the Recession February 12, 2012

    A report from the California Budget Project on the effect of the Great Recession on Californian women.

  • Healthcare Exchanges & Small Business February 11, 2012

    A three-part forum from the Small Business Majority on how to best implement the Small Business Health Options Program Exchange.

  • Start-Ups are Key to Job Creation January 13, 2012

    Martin A. Sullivan responds to a New York Times article about where new jobs come from in the United States; it isn’t where most people think.


  • Entrepreneurship at a Glance: 2011 December 17, 2011

    The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development looks at key indicators on international entrepreneurship.

  • Money for Something December 15, 2011

    Many states offer subsidies to businesses operating within their borders, but many programs do not require any job creation, or mandate a minimum level of job quality to receive the subsidy. Good Jobs First reports.

  • The Great Recession: Income Distribution December 13, 2011

    The Public Policy Institute of California looks at how the Great Recession affected income distribution in the state.

  • The State of Small Business November 13, 2011

    Pepperdine Business School reports on small business in the state of California. (Spoilers: They’re in favor.)

  • Small Business during a Recovery November 10, 2011

    Research presented during the Federal Reserve conference on Small Business amid a recovering economy.

  • With a Stroke of a Pen November 6, 2011

    24 low-cost, politically viable state policy ideas from the Corporation for Enterprise Development to increase financial security and opportunity in tough fiscal times.

  • Overcoming the Gender Gap September 13, 2011

    Despite recent gains, women still lag behind men on key measures of start-up activity, and their firms tend not to grow or prosper as much. The Kauffman Foundation reports on how we can better tap into this under-utilized economic resource.

  • Women-Owned Businesses, 1997-2007 September 12, 2011

    The most recent in Advocacy’s periodic series of reports on businesses owned by women and men.

  • Jobs, Infrastructure & the Workforce September 11, 2011

    California, and the nation as a whole, still can seize economic opportunities, but only if both overcome these multiplying sets of challenges – challenges made even tougher by the ongoing economic downturn and lingering effects from the “Great Recession.”

  • Small Business Finance FAQ September 2, 2011

    This document sketches the ecosystem or life-cycle of small business financing. The FAQ format allows users to browse through topics and learn about specific issues. Small businesses, which include startups in such sectors as information technology, service, retail, and manufacturing, have varying financial needs.

  • What Do Small Businesses Do? August 17, 2011

    Substantial differences exists among U.S. small businesses owners; Erik Hurst and Benjamin Wild Pugsley show few small businesses intend to bring a new idea to market.

  • Economic Growth Agenda for California August 16, 2011

    How California can retake control and drive forward again, moving California back into the lead on sustainable growth and real job creation—regaining our leadership role as America’s opportunity capital.

  • Unauthorized Immigrants in California July 17, 2011

    Unauthorized immigrants have been a part of many California industries and communities for decades, but recent and comprehensive information about the numbers and location of this population within California—at the county and sub-county level—does not exist.

  • CDFI Growth & Sustainability June 19, 2011

    This report will increase our understanding of challenges CDFIs face at different points in their development.

  • WIA: How is Federal Funding Spent? May 19, 2011

    Hundreds of millions of dollars are allocated annually to California through the federal Workforce Investment Act, and most local Workforce Investment Boards report spending far less on job training than on employment services at One-Stop Career Centers.

  • Are Big Banks Failing Consumers? March 19, 2011

    This report examines the six largest banks in California to evaluate the extent to which bank products and services are accessible to California’s under-served communities.

  • A Newly Crowded Marketplace March 18, 2011

    It is important to understand what this changing marketplace might hold. What are the implications of this new landscape of providers for microentrepreneurs and the nonprofit microlending industry?

  • The State of Women-Owned Businesses March 17, 2011

    Using data from the three most recent business census surveys, the most recent just published in December 2010, this report provides estimates of the number, employment and revenues of women-owned firms as of 2011.

  • DHF: Micro-Lending Pilot Program February 19, 2011

    The Dolores Huerta Foundation set out to launch a micro-lending pilot program, building capacity by researching small business curricula and micro-enterprise development models. Additionally, site visits were made to glean best practices and observe successful micro-lending operations.

  • Job Creation on a Budget January 19, 2011

    Properly designed, industry clusters are a low-cost way to stimulate innovation, new-firm start-ups, and job creation by helping to link and align the many factors that influence firm and regional growth.


  • Job Creation through Entrepreneurship October 19, 2010

    Is microenterprise development an effective job creation strategy during a recession? Key findings on women who entered employment, self-employment, providing jobs for others, job retention and creation, and full-time jobs.

  • The Intuit 2020 Report October 18, 2010

    With a new decade upon us, a range of demographic, economic, social, and technological shifts are changing the way we live and operate around the world. The Intuit 2020 report looks at the significant trends and forces that are affecting consumers and small businesses, and those who serve them, over the next decade.

  • Business Relocation & Homegrown Jobs September 19, 2010

    Relocation accounts for a smaller share of job gains and losses in California than in most other states, in part because most California businesses lie far from the border of neighboring states.

  • Start-ups: Job Creation, Job Destruction July 19, 2010

    Without start-ups, there would be no net job growth in the U.S. economy. This fact is true on average, but also is true for all but seven years for which the United States has data going back to 1977.

  • Microenterprises in the Economy June 19, 2010

    A Senate Office of Research report concerning the microenterprise sector in California, the number of microenterprises in California, the number of persons employed and jobs created by them, share of workforce in urban and rural counties, and changes in state/federal tax revenues due to the sector.

  • California Jobs Report 2010 February 20, 2010

    USDA Rural Development hosted forty-three forums across California and connected with almost 900 Californians from all reaches of the state, who  voiced their issues and shared their ideas for stimulating their local economies and creating jobs.

  • Women Entrepreneurs Worldwide 2010 January 20, 2010

    This Global Entrepreneurship Monitor report seeks to understand global differences in the frequency and nature of women’s entrepreneurship, and makes comparisons with men across various societies.


  • Growing America Through Entrepreneurship December 20, 2009

    This IMPAQ evaluation of Project GATE addresses the following questions:

    Could Project GATE be replicated?
    Was Project GATE effective in increasing business ownership, employment, and self-sufficiency?

  • Latina Entrepreneur SBE December 19, 2009

    This paper compares earnings of Latina entrepreneurs to both Latina wage/salary workers and to self-employed female non-Hispanic whites. Latina entrepreneurs are observed to have lower mean earnings than both white female entrepreneurs and Latina employees. However, our findings indicate that Latina entrepreneurs often do well, once differences in mean observable characteristics, such as education, are ...

  • Latina Entrepreneurship Trends August 20, 2009

    Latinos play an important role in the self-employment growth. Fueled by immigration, they are the largest and fastest growing minority group in the US. With high employment rates and a lack of labor market success, what are alternative policies to improve economic outcomes?

  • Do Enterprise Zones Create Jobs? June 20, 2009

    In this Public Policy Institute of California report, the authors assess the degree to which the state’s largest economic development program has met its most important goal: creating employment.

  • Tiny Business Creates Large Change January 20, 2009

    The real heart of job growth in the small business community is businesses with fewer than five employees. Addressing the needs of this segment can generate profound positive economic and social consequences.

  • Mexican-American Self-Employment January 19, 2009

    This paper analyzes causes of the low self-employment rate among Mexican-Americans by studying self-employment entry and exits. Importantly, the authors analyze self-employment by recognizing heterogeneity in business ownership across industries and show that a classification of firms by human and financial capital “intensiveness”, or entry barriers, is effective in explaining differences in entrepreneurship across ethnic ...


  • Minority Women Businesses Growing Fast November 20, 2008

    The Center for Women’s Business Research found that businesses owned by African American, Asian, and Hispanic women business owners substantially outpace all U.S. firms in the growth of revenues and number of employees.


  • More Employers, More Jobs, More Money December 20, 2007

    This study analyzes the relationship between local economic development policy and economic growth in a data set of 412 U.S. cities. Local government leaders in the U.S. employ a multitude of programs and policies in the name of economic development. The past few decades have seen a surge in local economic development policies, yet research ...

  • Latino Self-Employment Entry September 20, 2007

    This article examines causes of the low self-employment rates among Mexican-Hispanics by studying self-employment entry. The data show that Mexican-Hispanics are less likely to be self-employed or enter self-employment, relative to non-Hispanic whites. Also, the lower self-employment entry rates among Mexican-Hispanics are due to lower entry rates into business ownership of firms in relatively high-barrier ...


  • Self-Employment Assistance Programs June 20, 2001

    DTI Associates (June 2001) This report on Self-Employment Assistance Programs catalogs the eight state programs that were established between 1995 and 1999 and presents participant outcomes that were collected through a survey of former participants. In addition to cataloging the details of program operation in each of the states, DTI Associates reports participant outcomes as ...