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During its 2nd Annual MicroEnterprise Forum in Montgomery (April 30, 2013), the Alabama MicroEnterprise Network (AMEN) introduced the concept of a Micro-Entrepreneurial Ecosystem.  John Murdock, Accelerator Director with the Nashville-based Entrepreneur Center, challenged attendees to explore the critical elements of a thriving micro-entrepreneurial ecosystem, in which the intersection of talent, culture, capital, infrastructure, community and regulatory play a critical role in ensuring business growth.  Murdock addressed the 10 Critical Steps to Building a Micro-Entrepreneurial Ecosystem which include identifying a “front door” for entrepreneurs, concentrating efforts on the essential ingredients of success, connecting and creating a funding pipeline and building connections between large companies and start-ups. 

A microenterprise is a business with five or fewer employees that can benefit from a loan of $50,000 or less.  In the state of Alabama, there are 406,052 businesses, of which 355,950 are microenterprises according to the Association for Enterprise Opportunity Alabama Fact Sheet.  Gaynelle Adams Jackson, President of AMEN, stated that “Alabama ranks at the top

of the nation with the number of microbusinesses with 88% of its businesses being classified as microbusinesses.  This number equals the national average of 88% of all businesses being microenterprises.    This means that micro-entrepreneurship is alive and well in Alabama and is a viable option for job creation and poverty elimination.  Entrepreneurs are the main catalyst of the economy of our nation and the need to provide support to micro-businesses has never greater.” 

The Forum was sponsored by the Alabama Department of Commerce – Small Business Office of Advocacy, Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs – Office of Minority Business Enterprise, Alabama Asset Building Coalition, Building Alabama Reinvestment, FDIC Money Smart for Small Business Program, and BB&T, Iberia and Regions Banks. 

Other topics addressed at the conference included a luncheon presentation by Matt Wilson of the Alabama SBDC Network on the State of Microbusiness in Alabama and workshop sessions on:

  • How to Start a Microbusiness Development Program
  • Best Practices / New Services which included panel presentations on:
    • Receivable Collections – AmSher, in partnership with AEO (Association for Enterprise Opportunity), is working with several microlenders across the country to clean up their Accounts Receivables and install new internal collection policies for their organizations.
    • MicroTracker – MicroTracker helps microenterprise programs, donors, and investors track the performance and client outcomes of microenterprise organizations nationwide.
    • Crowdfunding – We will explore using a web based fundraising platform for the general public to connect with their favorite 501c3 charitable organization.
    • Individual Development Accounts (IDA) – The IDA program is designed to assist low-income individuals and families build financial assets to purchase a home, start or grow a small business, or pay for college tuition or vocational education.
    • Money Smart for Small Business (A Train the Trainer Session)
    • Communicating the Benefits of Your Organization by Integrating Social Media and Traditional Marketing. 

The Alabama MicroEnterprise Network (AMEN) is a 501 c (3) organization that speaks with one voice to serve, educate and empower Alabama’s microbusiness development organizations and the entrepreneurs they represent. The Alabama Microenterprise Network Forum brings together microenterprise development organizations, economic and workforce development agencies, asset building partners, lending institutions, policymakers and community leaders from across the state to: 

  • Explore the opportunities and challenges that microbusinesses face
  • Learn about resources available to support these businesses from regional and state leaders
  • Work towards a shared vision and plan to advance microenterprise in Alabama

 For more information about Microbusiness Development Organizations and Microbusinesses in Alabama contact the Alabama MicroEnterprise Network (AMEN) at  (END)

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 Alabama MicroEnterprise Network (AMEN)

Post Office Box 1882, Birmingham, Alabama 35201 
For Immediate Release:  
For More Information Contact:
Gaynelle Adams Jackson, President 
Alabama MicroEnterprise Network 
Phone: (205) 856-2776

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