AEO is unmatched in our knowledge, insights and data related to microbusiness.

We produce new insights that can assist with resource allocation for funders, guide advocacy priorities and offer industry service providers and lenders information that can deepen their impact.

We utilize data from a variety of sources to provide analyses in focus areas e.g., minority-owned businesses and illustrate the microbusiness landscape at the local level.

We are always seeking input from our members on what type of research they would find most useful to help guide future projects. If you have suggestions, questions or other feedback, contact us.

Featured Reports

Mending The Tapestry: Building Trust And Strengthening Black Business Ownership In America

This report focuses on identifying strategies to address one of the key barriers to Black business success: the trust gap. The trust gap is a relationship breach between Black business owners and institutions in their business ecosystem and is a threat to individual, community, and societal well-being.

Leveraging Digital Resources and Training for Small Business Growth and Community Benefit

This report presents the details of the program and offers a call-to-action and a set of strategies aimed at helping build an entrepreneurial ecosystem that can have a profound impact on communities — especially underserved communities — throughout the United States.


The Tapestry of Black Business Ownership in America: Untapped Opportunities for Success

AEO tapped the power of Big Data analytics to examine — for the first time — the size and structure of a critical but underserved market: small businesses in low-income communities.


Micro Capital Task Force: Moving Money to Main Street

Recognizing the failure on Main Street, AEO 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.

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Linking Young Adults to Microbusiness: Providing New Pathways to Economic Opportunity

With headlines nationwide raising concern about disaffected youth, particularly in minority communities, this report outlines the critical need for the microbusiness industry to mobilize in order to assist young adults in getting on track to economic livelihood.


Linking Young Adults to Microbusiness: A Supplement Guide 2017

In this follow-up report to Linking Young Adults to Microbusiness, AEO identifies the highest potential opportunities to significantly increase the odds of success for youth (ages 15-24) through an entrepreneurial training strategy.


A Larger View of the Small Business Market: Tapping the Power of Big Data Analytics

AEO tapped the power of Big Data analytics to examine — for the first time — the size and structure of a critical but underserved market: small businesses in low-income communities.


Bigger Than You Think: The Economic Impact of Microbusiness in the United States

AEO embarked on a two-year study to build the data and the evidence base that documents the economic impact of microbusiness in the U.S. The evidence gathered paints a compelling portrait of a remarkably vigorous microbusiness community that plays an essential role in American economic productivity.


Microbusinesses in Georgia: Characteristics and Economic Impact

This report analyzes microbusinesses in Georgia in terms of their number and proportion, their sales and receipts, and their annual payroll by business sector, based on the Survey of Business Owners (SBO) 2007, conducted by the U.S. Bureau of the Census.


Reimagining Technical Assistance: Shifting the Support Landscape for Main Street

In order to gain insight into what microbusinesses in low-wealth communities need to grow and hire, AEO assessed the needs of business owners, compared them to the current landscape of available support and proposed a new approach to fill the gap..


One in Three

If one in three microbusinesses in the United States hired an additional employee, the country would be at full employment. Read the seminal report that serves as the basis for AEO’s One in Three Alliance and commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative.


One in Three: The Power of One Business

With access to the right mix of capital and resources, microbusinesses could be the engine of job creation and economic recovery. AEO spent a year engaging with underserved entrepreneurs around the country to better understand who they are, what motivates them to start and grow businesses and what they need to succeed.


The Big Green Opportunity for Small Business in the U.S.

AEO, Green America and EcoVentures International (EVI), with support from eBay and the UPS Foundation, conducted a national survey of business owners in order to identify and quantify “green” opportunities for the smallest of businesses, as well as barriers to action.

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Microbusinesses in the United States: Characteristics and Sector Participation

This report provides analyses by business size and sector, gender, race, ethnicity and veteran status, along with detailed insights about microbusinesses. It opens the door to further investigation of the findings within key sectors to better understand how microbusinesses might position themselves to obtain greater business success.


Returning Citizen Entrepreneurship: Enhancing Support, Increasing Opportunities, and Deepening Success

Entrepreneurship can effectively address the underlying causes of the high recidivism rate, while also providing a promising career and life path. However, the difference between success and failure for these fledgling entrepreneurs may lie in three key strategies: early credit development, right-fit capital, and trauma-informed care. When training programs add these strategies into their curriculum, they can deliver even greater success and impact for participants. This paper also shares experiences of how people are realizing their dreams of long-term career and life success, and how new programs are enabling them to do so. 


Microbusiness: A Community-Centered to Inequitable Food Systems

AEO’s research explores the possibility of local food system microbusiness to increase food access, food security, and economic opportunity while building community wealth. Defined as all the processes and actors involved in transforming a seed into food, food systems include farmers, distributors, food manufacturers, retailers, and consumers. By bridging economic development and financial security with locally owned food systems, local food system microbusiness empowers community members with the capacity to change their food systems while disrupting the effects of poverty. 


Advancing Entrepreneurial Readiness Training for Returning Citizens

This toolkit provides easy-to-use resources for practitioners offering post-release entrepreneurial training to returning citizens (individuals who were formerly incarcerated). The opportunities highlighted are intended for program managers, funders, and policy makers seeking to learn more effective training approaches or for potential partners looking to improve support to returning citizen entrepreneurs.




Fact Sheet: What Is A Microbusiness?

Firms with 0-4 Employees are MICROBUSINESSES

91% of firms in the U.S. are microbusinesses, firms with 0-4 employees. These 24.7 million businesses averaging $84,000 in revenue each contribute $2 trillion to the economy, and supply more than 30 million jobs for owners and their employees. Most microbusinesses are nonemployers without formal staff on the payroll but a third of them will hire contractors*, providing economic opportunities for at least 7 million more.


Underserved Entrepreneur Index

This infographic sums up microbusiness numbers across the country by region and introduces metrics that prove the importance of microbusinesses to our economy.


Microbusiness Statistics (MEBS)


AEO’s Microbusiness Statistics (MEBS) calculates the percentage of all businesses that are microbusinesses and provides the field with powerful data that clearly illustrates the prominence of microbusinesses in U.S. communities. MEBS show a breakdown of :

  1. Total number of microbusinesses;
  2. Total number of businesses with employees; and
  3. Microbusinesses as a percentage of all businesses.

 Available MEBS spreadsheets are:

If you need specific data for your state, please contact us.

Microbusiness Employment Statistics (MEES)


AEO’s Microbusiness Employment Statistics calculates the percent of employment that is attributed to microbusinesses (businesses with five or less employees).

This information provides the industry with accurate, reliable statistics on the economic prevalence of microbusiness in terms of employers and employees through a county-by-county breakdown of three indicators vital to understanding the impact of microbusinesses on the U.S. economy:

  1. Total number of microbusinesses;
  2. Total microbusiness employment; and
  3. Microbusiness as a percentage of total employment.

 MEES also includes a rural/urban classification of each county and derives a breakdown of rural/urban microbusiness employment.

If you need specific data for your state, please contact Corey Briscoe.


Microbusiness Statistics

AEO has developed a variety of research tools which demonstrate the impact of microbusiness in local U.S. economies. The AEO Microbusiness Statistics are divided into two main categories:

  • Microbusiness Statistics (MEBS)
  • Microbusiness Employment Statistics (MEES)