About Microenterprise Development

The Microenterprise Development Program helps refugees develop, expand or maintain their own businesses and become financially independent. It also supports the Microenterprise Development – Home-Based Child Care Initiative. To equip refugees with the skills they need to become successful entrepreneurs, the program provides training and technical assistance in:

  • Business plan development
  • Management
  • Bookkeeping
  • Marketing

Microenterprise Development services include business technical assistance or short-term training, credit in the form of micro-loans up to a maximum of $15,000, and, if applicable, a revolving loan fund. The programs are designed in a manner that is culturally and linguistically appropriate for the refugee population.

Public or private non-profit organizations design Microenterprise Development Programs with an understanding of the characteristics of the local refugee populations:

  • Employment rates
  • Welfare status
  • Length of time in the U.S.
  • Interest in micro-businesses
  • Readiness to start a micro-business
  • English language proficiency

Also, they are familiar with the capital needs and capital market gaps for refugee entrepreneurs and therefore train refugees how to access to business credit.

In FY 2011, there are 18 grantees in 15 states that receive grants totaling $4 million.

Refugees bring many positive attributes to the Microenterprise Development Program including a diverse and rich array of business ideas, skills, experiences, and a strong desire to succeed.

Microenterprise Development Program Quick Facts

  • During the last 19 years, refugees have developed, expanded or maintained approximately 10,800 micro-businesses with a business survival rate of 88 percent.
  • ORR grantees have provided about $10.03 million in financing to entrepreneurs, and agencies have used these loans to leverage another $15.5 million in loans from the private and public sectors.
  • The loan repayment rate is nearly 98 percent--far higher than the average repayment rate in the industry.
  • Over 10,000 new jobs have been created.
  • Over 24,000 refugees have gained new entrepreneurial skills and knowledge.
  • Additional business income helps refugee families achieve economic self-sufficiency.

Eligibility includes persons who meet all requirements of 45 CFR 400.43 (as amended by 65 FR 154009 (March 22, 2000). The targeted refugee population for these programs may include refugees who receive public assistance or subsidies, and/or who lack the financial resources, credit history, or personal assets to qualify for business loans or assistance through commercial institutions. Refugees who are not yet citizens may participate in the Microenterprise Development Program regardless of their date of arrival in the U.S.

MED Annual Report for FY 2011

Policy Information

  • 45 CFR 400.43
  • 65 FR 15409 (March 22, 2000)
  • 412 (c) (1) (A) of the Immigration and Nationality ACT (INA) (8 U.S.C. 1522 (c) (1) (A)

Contact Information
Belay Embaye
Program Manager
Office of Refugee Resettlement
Administration for Children and Families
370 L’Enfant Promenade, S.W.
Washington, DC 20447
Phone: 202-401-4978
Fax: 202-401-5772