Microenterprise Development

Success Story

The Microenterprise Development (MED) program helps ORR-served populations gain financial independence by providing loans and training to help them start, sustain, or expand a small business to support themselves and their families.

Refugees and other ORR-eligible populations often had to leave their entire lives behind, and arrive in the U.S. without formal documentation showing any financial history. Others come from areas that don’t maintain formal financial systems, so they may not understand certain financial concepts.

The Microenterprise Development program gives refugees the tools and training they need to understand and navigate the business environment in the U.S. and assists with building or repairing their credit history. In the process, more small business are created, creating jobs.

Participating in the Program

Refugees who are not yet citizens may participate in the program regardless of their date of arrival in the U.S., but the program prioritizes refugees who have been in the U.S. less than five years. Program participants can receive a loan of up to $15,000.

Before receiving the loan, they have to complete training on how to start and manage a small business and prepare a business plan.

Training is provided on a continual basis until the loan is repaid. Participants learn about customer service, bookkeeping, inventory purchase and management, cash management, and taxes.

The loan payment is reported to one of the credit bureaus to help the participant establish credit history and improve their credit score.

Repaid loans go back into the organizations’ revolving loan funds so that organizations are gradually able to depend less on federal funding. The Microenterprise Development program encourages grantees to diversify their funding base and maximize the amount of money they have available to lend.

Becoming a Grantee

ORR partners with mainstream microenterprise programs, including:

  • Small Business Administration
  • Community Development Financial Institution of the Treasury Department
  • Association of Enterprise Opportunities, an umbrella organization for Microenterprise and Economic Development Organizations in the U.S.

ORR has supported Microenterprise Development projects implemented by a variety of public agencies, community economic development agencies, local mutual assistance associations, and voluntary agency affiliates.

The Microenterprise Development program is a competitive grant program with a five-year project period Organizations wishing to operate a Microenterprise Development program must submit an application when the MED Funding Opportunities Announcement is open on Grants.gov.

Current Microenterprise Development grantees.