Micro Capital Task Force


The American dream is out of reach for millions of Main Street business owners who are not able to access capital or support on the path to capital for their businesses. Hard work alone will not solve the problem given the current path of financial institutions and other market players, even with strong support from a range of community-based institutions. Solving this problem requires the emergence of a new financial system for Main Street. Recognizing this massive market failure, AEO, the national trade association for U.S. microfinance and Main Street businesses, formed a private multi-stakeholder task force to present fact-based and practical recommendations to the White House, the Department of Treasury and the Congress regarding access to capital in amounts of up to $250,000 for the smallest businesses. In parallel, AEO commissioned Ira Lieberman, one of the pioneers in scaling microfinance internationally, to draft a strategic plan to scale Main Street microfinance in the United States.



requests for capital denied each business day

$42 - $52 billion

capital gap to Main Street

30 percent

declined requests that are creditworthy today

Feature Stories

Michael Temm of Wedding Wonderland faced a huge challenge after financing rapid expansion mostly with credit cards. When the interest payments continued to add up, he went to local banks to see if he could refinance the debt, but none would consider it. He was dumbfounded. “I have decent credit, why can’t I get a loan and in 2 to 3 years be debt-free?” Read more to find out how Michael overcame this financial challenge.

Aaron Thomas was the first member of his family to go to college. One year after graduation he was delivering pizzas and wanted more. “The biggest challenge was starting a business in a low-wealth area where jobs are limited. Bank loan officers kept telling me that my business was too risky and a bad idea that won’t last past a year, which was now 10 years ago.” Read about how Aaron created a job for himself and others by starting his own business, Class “A” Sounds.

Rick Robertshaw was running a young but growing company. He hadn’t even thought of approaching banks because he thought they would not give him the necessary capital. “This business was largely a start-up operation and I just kind of knew that banks, while they had funds available to loan, would be looking for some rock-solid security that a more established business could offer. We were / are growing, but banks tend to only really loan you money—when you don’t really need it!” Where would Rick find the capital to expand?

April Harris had encountered several personal and business problems but she was not one to give up. She turned an opportunity to open her own store in a new location and recovered from the brink of bankruptcy to running a successful ice cream shop with 7 full-time employees. “I believe the determination to save my business and provide not only a living for myself, but to also provide jobs for college students and young adults is the best decision I could have made.” Where would April find the assistance needed to succeed with her own shop?



Click here for the one-pager from the MCTF Congressional Briefing including policy recommendations.

Click here for the MCTF draft concept note and framework.

Continue to share your ideas, recommendations and feedback with the Working Groups and Task Force team!


MCTF Materials

Click here for an overview of the MCTF and highlights from our multi-stakeholder survey.

Review the participant list and discussion document from the April 24 call for the Working Group to Ensure Inclusion of Underserved Entrepreneurs.

Click here to review the summary of the strategy and recommendations prepared by Ira Lieberman and his team of experts: Keith Catanzano, Paul DiLeo, Alana Heath, Jenifer Mudd, Jose Ruisanchez. Click here to review the full version of the strategy document with supporting materials.



Click here to read prior work on U.S. microfinance from Ira Lieberman, Jenifer Mudd and Phil Goodeve.

Click here to listen to a virtual multi-stakeholder roundtable on Scale & Sustainability for Mission-Focused Lending.




This strategy was developed with generous support from: