Starting a business is a principal way for a select but significant number of low-income people to accumulate assets that give them a stake in society. On an individual level, self-employment can help people exit poverty and build wealth. On a community level, small businesses help to anchor communities and provide diverse goods and services that respond to local needs. However, low-income entrepreneurs are not well-served by either mainstream financial institutions or government programs. The diversity of these businesses and the people who operate them requires a range of policy tools to help them achieve their potential. This issue brief provides policy recommendations designed to help people start, maintain, and grow very small businesses so that they can accumulate assets, increase their security, and contribute to the economy.
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