Mission & Vision


AEO’s mission is to create economic opportunity for underserved entrepreneurs by supporting the development of strong and effective initiatives to assist them in starting, stabilizing and expanding businesses.

AEO’s vision is for every individual in the U.S. to have access to resources and services for creating wealth, assets and healthy communities through business ownership.

Strategy & Impact


AEO and its members and partners are helping to build a vibrant microbusiness sector served by a broad range of institutions and sustainable providers of business development and support services.

AEO’s strategy includes three pillars:

  1. Strengthen and restructure the microbusiness field to serve as a robust source of sustainable products and services to an increasing number of underserved entrepreneurs.

  2. Link the needs of a growing microbusiness sector to an ecosystem of market partners for greater economic impact.

  3. Catalyze new solutions and the rapid adoption of standards and innovation by microbusiness development organizations to drive transformation in the field.

AEO has had a significant impact on the microbusiness sector, including:

  • AEO members have helped more than two million entrepreneurs create jobs for themselves and their communities.

  • AEO has secured more than $1B+ federal dollars for microbusiness industry participants since 2001 through policy advocacy efforts.

  • Through AEO-managed programs, member organizations have received $20 million in private funding to improve/expand vital programs and services to underserved entrepreneurs and distressed communities.

  • AEO research and initiatives have shaped policy and practice toward opportunity, industry transformation and financial inclusion. 

For more than two decades, AEO and its member and partners have provided training and financing to enable more than two million entrepreneurs to contribute to economic growth as they support themselves, their families and their communities. Supporting AEO enables us to deepen and extend the impact of our members and the entrepreneurs they serve. Contact us to discuss the opportunities you and AEO can generate together, or give online today.



Commercial banks and the companies that seek to support Main Street businesses with products and services are logical partners for AEO initiatives, but any company that is eager to support small business through effective, innovative and high-impact interventions would do well to become a partner. There are several ways to partner with AEO:

  • Sponsor all or part of our AEO 2018 National Microbusiness Conference 
  • Collaborate on specific initiatives
  • Contribute services or goods to support entrepreneurs and microbusiness development organizations
  • Donate funds for specific initiatives or contribute unrestricted program funds



For organizations focused on financial inclusion, economic opportunity and entrepreneurship, there are many opportunities for participation, such as:

  • Collaborate to design and implement community- or constituency-based programs or grants
  • Contribute funds or resources to further AEO’s impact in your areas of interest
  • Contribute unrestricted funds for AEO to apply to critical areas of opportunity



The easiest way to support the work of AEO is to donate funds. Even small gifts make a difference! Individual donors can support AEO by:

  • Giving to a specific program or initiative that is meaningful to you
  • Giving to our unrestricted program funds to help us advance the mission of AEO by directing your funds
  • Making a lasting gift in honor of a loved one by naming a grant program or fellowship
  • If you would like to make an unrestricted donation you can do so online here.