Mercy Corps NW selected to participate in Scale Academy for Microenterprise Development
We are honored and excited for this new learning opportunity and the potential to scale up our services. Press Release is excerpted in the blog, go here for full article.
The Aspen Institute and the Association for Enterprise Opportunity announced today the five organizations selected to be part of the Scale Academy for Microenterprise Development. The Scale Academy is a program that offers grant funding, peer learning events, and technical assistance to a set of high-performing microenterprise organizations that have demonstrated a commitment to scaling up to serve more clients through working to help low-income entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
The Academy is operated jointly by FIELD at the Aspen Institute (Microenterprise Fund for Innovation, Effectiveness, Learning and Dissemination) and the Association for Enterprise Opportunity, the trade association for microenterprise development programs in the US. Microenterprises are very small businesses requiring $50,000 or less in start-up capital and employing five or fewer people. The entrepreneurs targeted by microenterprise organizations tend to be women, minorities, immigrants, low-income and/or individuals with disabilities.
The five organizations, selected from among 33 applicants nationwide, are:
- Mercy Corps Northwest, Portland, Ore. With offices in Portland and Seattle, the organization served 958 clients in 2010 with business training, lending, Individual Development Accounts, and specially targeted services for the formerly incarcerated, refugees, and other high-risk populations. The Academy recognized Mercy Corps as a highly innovative organization and for its strategy to expand its microlending throughout Oregon and Washington using a new online portal for loan applications and a partnership referral program.
- MicroMentor, Portland, Ore. MicroMentor facilitates mentoring relationships between entrepreneurs and volunteer business mentors using a platform that integrates technology systems and other services to accelerate the growth of microenterprises. In 2010, it matched 900 entrepreneurs with mentors, and the organization aims to grow that, planning to make 2,500 matches in 2012. The Academy recognized MicroMentor for its total focus on scalability and its strategy to develop an affiliate program to help 150 microenterprise development organizations offer higher-quality mentoring services to disadvantaged entrepreneurs.