Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University
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Abstract Details

An Overview of Basic Issues Facing Microenterprise Practices in the United States
Vol. Volume 3, Number 1 June/1998

Margaret A. Johnson

Margaret A. Johnson is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Oklahoma State University. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the August 1997 American Sociological Association Annual Meeting in Toronto, Canada. The author expresses gratitude to Ivan Light, Steven Balkin, Umasundari Akella, and Julie Lalande for their careful reading and insightful suggestions. The author maintains responsibility for the contents of the paper.

Microenterprise programs in a post-industrial society face unique challenges in their implementation. These include decisions about the goals of microenterprise (to create jobs or empower participants through economic self-sufficiency and personal development), whom microenterprise programs should target, how microenterprise programs can empower participants, what resources should be devoted to training, and whether microenterprise programs are helping clients reach self-sufficiency or if clients are becoming overworked, low income entrepreneurs. The diversity of microenterprise programs and their implications for understanding social mobility informs the discussion of issues.

Keywords: microenterprise, microcredit, sustainability, entrepreneurship, economic development, social mobility, post-industrial economy, social capital