Microbusiness, Gainful Jobs

As part of BOI’s work to understand the value of microenterprise as an economic opportunity strategy, we set out to explore the quality of jobs supported by microenterprise development organizations through an in-depth, qualitative study, Microbusinesses, Gainful Jobs, published in an updated edition in August 2015. We used a framework developed by our colleagues within the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program, which notes that good jobs “raise the floor and build ladders.”

Partnering with the members of the Accion US Network, we interviewed 104 microbusiness employees who worked for businesses financed by Accion. The interviews explored key aspects of job quality, including wages, hours, scheduling stability and flexibility, benefits, opportunities to build skills, and more. Key findings included:

  • 48 percent of workers earned wages above the $11.73 “low-wage” threshold.
  • 80 percent of workers had stable schedules, and 87 percent had some flexibility in scheduling.
  • 67 percent of workers saw opportunities for growth in their jobs.
  • The businesses provide jobs for those who struggle most in the US economy: individuals with disabilities, the formerly incarcerated, immigrants, seniors, and parents returning to the workforce.

BOI’s findings from Microbusinesses, Gainful Jobs are featured in an interactive site at gainfuljobs.org. There you can explore the experiences of the microbusiness workers interviewed through quotes, videos, and infographics.

BOI thanks Accion for assisting in completing this study. Thanks also to the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, for helping envision initial research and providing funding, and the Annie E. Casey Foundation, for funding the expansion of the research to three additional sites.