Mott Foundation Grant Boosts New Project to Help Nonprofits Serve More Entrepreneurs

March 28, 2007  • Institute Contributor

Mott Foundation Grant Boosts New Project to Help Nonprofits Serve More Entrepreneurs

Contact: Elaine Edgcomb
Director of FIELD
Tel: 732-452-0143

Marilyn S. LeFeber
Vice President-Communications
Charles Stewart Mott Foundation
Tel: 810-238-5651

WASHINGTON, DC, March 23, 2007 – A new project designed to significantly increase the number of low-income entrepreneurs receiving help to start and grow their businesses, has received a $250,000 grant from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

The Mott Foundation is the second national philanthropic organization in recent weeks to make a sizable grant for the project. In February, the Citigroup Foundation also made a $250,000 grant to help launch the initiative.

Called the Scale Academy for Microenterprise Development, the project will work with up to eight organizations that assist entrepreneurs. The eight groups will be selected through a competitive application process and must demonstrate that they are ready to expand their operation. Once selected for the academy, the groups will receive training, financing and other intensive services to help them grow.

The academy will be operated jointly by the Microenterprise Fund for Innovation, Effectiveness, Learning and Dissemination (FIELD), which is a project of the Washington, DC-based Aspen Institute, and by the Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO), the trade association for microenterprise development organizations in the US, of which there are about 500 nationwide.

Microenterprises are defined as very small business capitalized with $35,000 or less and employing five or fewer people. The “microentrepreneurs” who operate those businesses tend to be women, minorities, immigrants, low-income and/or individuals with disabilities.

The Mott Foundation has been a long-time supporter of the domestic microenterprise field. Maureen H. Smyth, senior vice-president of programs and communications at Mott, said that reaching larger numbers of entrepreneurs has been a long-standing issue in US.

“Microenterprise programs in the US are currently able to serve only a small portion of the 10 million individuals who could benefit from their services,” she said. “The Scale Academy could significantly increase the field’s capacity to strengthen and support entrepreneurial opportunities.”
Applications to the academy are being accepted by FIELD through March 30, 2007. For details visit:

The Mott Foundation, established in 1926 in Flint, is a private philanthropy committed to supporting projects that promote a just, equitable and sustainable society. It supports nonprofit programs throughout the US and, on a limited geographic basis, internationally. Besides Flint, offices are located in suburban Detroit, Johannesburg (South Africa) and London. Grantmaking is focused in four programs: Civil Society, Environment, Flint Area and Pathways out of Poverty. For more information about the Foundation, visit its Web site at

FIELD has been a leading producer of research on the domestic microenterprise industry for nearly a decade. It is housed at the Aspen Institute, which was founded in 1950 and today is an international nonprofit dedicated to fostering enlightened leadership and open-minded dialogue.
The Aspen Institute, founded in 1950, is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering enlightened leadership and open-minded dialogue. Through seminars, policy programs, conferences and leadership development initiatives, the Institute and its international partners seek to promote nonpartisan inquiry and an appreciation for timeless values. The Institute is headquartered in Washington, DC, and has campuses in Aspen, Colorado, and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Its international network includes partner Aspen Institutes in Berlin, Rome, Lyon, Tokyo, New Delhi, and Bucharest, and leadership programs in Africa, Central America and India.

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