Journal of Microfinance / ESR Review


Microenterprise, while currently serving a small number of America's poor, is often the only option--other than receiving welfare--for a variety of individuals to improve their standard of living or quality of life. MicroTest, a project of the Aspen Institute, was created to improve the value of microenterprise services and the stability of microenterprise organizations over time by perfecting and promoting the use of measures to regularly assess performance. This article proposes a performance measurement framework for U.S. microenterprise development programs. The following key categories of outputs and outcomes can be used to assess the performance of microenterprise development providers: Reaching Target Groups Scale Program Services Program Services Performance Costs, Efficiency, and Sustainability Institutional Capacity and Financial Condition Outcomes and Impact As the microenterprise field matures, there is a growing need for some level of standardization in these performance assessments. However, there is a need to balance the simplicity and accessibility of standardization with the diversity of this field. The performance measurement framework described in this article begins the process of determining excellence among distinct strategies, targeted to different populations, and implemented in unique socioeconomic environments by a broad range of microenterprise development organizations.


Karen Doyle is the Director of Special Projects at the Aspen Institute's Economic Opportunities Program. She focuses on fundraising, project design, and external relations for the EOP and manages learning assessments for its Fund for Innovation, Effectiveness, Learning and Dissemination (FIELD).; Jerry Black is a Program Manager at the Aspen Institute's Economic Opportunities Program. He manages two projects related to microenterprise development: MicroTest, a national performance measurement and outcomes monitoring project that currently includes over 50 microenterprise practitioners, and a project to improve the management information systems of microenterprise programs.



Journal Title

Journal of Microfinance

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