May 19, 2016


May 18, 2016

Michael K. Frisby

WASHINGTON, DC – With microbusinesses making up almost 90 percent of the nation’s businesses and even more of the businesses in low-wealth communities, the Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO) issued a report of the “Trusted Guidance” that is available to help these Main Street and neighborhood businesses realize their potential as “engines for wealth-creation and employment growth.”

The report, generously supported by Capital One, included findings from interviews with non-profit organizations involved in the microbusiness industry and a meeting of more than 80 non-profit lenders and service providers.

“The passion among Main Street and neighborhood business owners in low-wealth communities is electric,” said Connie Evans, AEO’s President and CEO. “However, when it comes to being able to access the resources available to assist microbusinesses, the knowledge and information about these resources too frequently doesn’t reach entrepreneurs in underserved communities. We want to change that with our new strategy and approach that will lift barriers to services in low-wealth communities and allow business owners to achieve their dreams, contribute to the economy and create jobs.”

As the report notes, Trusted Guidance is the leveraging of local, tailored, community-level support, including an expanding marketplace of products, services, counselling and access to credit, to address the essential needs of small business owners, especially those operating in low-wealth communities.

“What these business owners need is wise counsel and access to solutions to meet their needs delivered by someone or a process that has earned credibility as a trusted authority through shared experience and empathy,” said Tammy A. Halevy AEO’s Senior Vice President of New Initiatives. “Organizations – nonprofit, for-profit and government – must design and deliver support to meet the needs of the business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs in low-wealth communities.”

Ms. Halevy warned that this process “is not” about designing a single training course or tool. “It’s about bringing to bear available products, services and resources while creating social networks and new market opportunities to solve for access,” she said. “Achieving these objectives requires a new model. We’re calling this new model “Trusted Guidance.’ ”

AEO is releasing its report on this assistance in conjunction with “EconoCon25,” AEO’s national conference and 25th anniversary celebration, running May 18, 2016, to May 20, 2016, at the Hyatt Regency Washington, D.C., on Capitol Hill. The conference includes a discussion of how to improve services to business in low-wealth communities.

“These hardworking businesses include barbers, chefs, shop-keepers and many others on Main Street and cross-streets across the country,” the report says. “Their potential for impact as engines of both wealth-creation and employment-growth is undeniable: These businesses could grow to employ far more than the 26 million people across the United States that they presently employ. Microbusinesses grow and hire when they get the right mix of capital and support.”

To provide that “right mix of capital and support,” AEO recommends:
Expanding existing national programs, designed to support business building, into low-wealth communities
Lifting barriers that currently hinder the reach of local programs and initiatives to entrepreneurs in low-wealth communities
Developing the flow of new technology services to low-wealth communities, where it seems adoption is “slower or less intense than in wealthier communities.

“Too many small business owners toil away for years without building a durable operation that can be transferred or sold,” the report says. “Effectively unlocking a system of trusted guidance would enable business owners to build durable businesses that match their aspirations, whether that is to sustain a family or grow into a much larger operation.”


(To schedule a print or broadcast interview with AEO’s Connie Evans, please contact Michael K. Frisby at or 202-625-4328.)

About Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO)
The Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO) is the voice of innovation in microbusiness and microfinance in the United States. For 25 years, AEO and its more than 450 member/partner organizations have helped millions of entrepreneurs contribute to economic growth while supporting themselves, their families and their communities. AEO members and partners include a broad range of organizations that provide capital and services to assist underserved entrepreneurs in starting, stabilizing and expanding their businesses. Together, we are working to change the way that capital and services flow to underserved entrepreneurs so that they can create jobs and opportunities for all. Learn more about The Association for Enterprise Opportunity at

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