Evaluating Microenterprise Programs: Issues and Lessons Learned
Vol. Volume 1, Number 2 September/1996
Salome Raheim, Catherine Foster Alter, and Donald Yarbrough
Salome Raheim is an Assistant Professor and Donald Yarbrough is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Work, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1223. Catherine Foster Alter is Dean of the School of Social Work at the University of Denver. An earlier draft of this paper was presented at the International Evaluation Conference, Evaluation for a New Century: A Global Perspective, Vancouver, Canada, November 1-5, 1995.
The use of microenterprise development as a strategy for creating economic opportunity for the poor, the unemployed, and other economically disadvantaged groups is increasing in the United States. Federal and state government agencies, as well as private foundations, have funded microenterprise development demonstration projects to test the efficacy of this strategy and identify effective program models. This paper provides a brief historical survey of microenterprise programs supported by the U.S. government. It describes problems the authors encountered while evaluating a multi-site national demonstration program and several single-site state programs. Finally, the lessons learned about conducting evaluations of microenterprise development programs are discussed.
Microloan program evaluation, microenterprise development, microloan programs, self-employment.