AEO is the leading voice of innovation for microbusiness and microfinance.

Our mission is to create economic opportunity for underserved entrepreneurs by supporting the development of strong and effective initiatives to assist them in starting, stabilizing and expanding businesses.

Our research, initiatives, convenings and advocacy shape policy and practice toward opportunity, industry transformation and inclusive entrepreneurship.

How We Do It

AEO is a trade organization and network that takes an entrepreneurial approach to solving systemic market issues in order to support the development of a robust and inclusive marketplace for underserved microbusinesses.

AEO is dedicated to providing an array of services that leverage AEO’s deep-rooted market knowledge and connections. With its mission to create economic opportunities for underserved entrepreneurs, AEO supports a more inclusive marketplace by conducting research that provides actionable insight on serving microbusinesses, advocating on behalf of policies that support the industry, developing new products and platforms that create market efficiencies and connecting key market actors through its network.

With its strong 30-year history of design and execution of high-impact national programs to advance microbusiness, AEO utilizes its deep market experience, extensive network, and dynamic team to facilitate creative solutions and collaborative partnerships for greater impact.

Members and Strategic Partnerships

AEO membership now numbers 2,700+ members, which includes non-profit business support organizations, community-based lenders, including CDFIs, advocates, and entrepreneurs. We also have key private sector partnerships with companies such as Acendus, Capital One, Wells Fargo, Fiserv, Fifth Third, Fluent, JP Morgan Chase, Kellogg, PayPal and Walmart. These strategic partnerships assist AEO with addressing challenges faced by microbusinesses.

Learn About Our Innovation Hub Model

Our Impact

AEO has had a significant impact on the microbusiness sector, including:


  • AEO members have helped more than two million entrepreneurs create jobs for themselves and their communities.
  • AEO has secured more than $1B+ federal dollars for microbusiness industry participants since 2001 through policy advocacy efforts.
  • Through AEO-managed programs, member organizations have received $20 million in private funding to improve/expand vital programs and services to underserved entrepreneurs and distressed communities.
  • AEO research and initiatives have shaped policy and practice toward opportunity, industry transformation and financial inclusion.