Foundation Center Focus on Education
Poverty - Business and Job Development in the U.S.

Business and Job Development in the U.S.


“Without adequate income poor people are unlikely to acquire assets. . . . Similarly, lack of asset ownership limits income opportunities, such as starting a business.”
— Closing the Wealth Gap through Self-Employment


12% of foundation dollars to combat poverty in the U.S. in 2007 funded small business or job development programs


How can we empower people to achieve financial security?


Build entrepreneurial capacity and economic independence of low-income women through business management training, loans, and technical support

Case Study

Women’s Initiative for Self Employment, California
  • Helps high potential, low-income women, especially women of color and immigrants, achieve business ownership
  • Offers training at 7 sites in the San Francisco Bay Area
  • Provides childcare and transportation stipends, low-interest loans, and matched savings accounts (IDAs)
  • Funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration, corporate donors, and private and community foundations


  • Over its 20-year history, helped low-income women develop more than 1,600 businesses
  • Disbursed over $800,000 in loans and leveraged $1.8 million from other sources
  • Clients more than tripled their household wealth within two years after training

Research Sources

Women's Initiative

Closing the Wealth Gap Through Self-Employment
Karuna Jaggar and Elizabeth de Renzy

Cadence Helps Women Take Initiative
Silicon Valley Business Journal Giving Guide 2008-2009

Women's Initiative Business Students Graduate Prepared for Success
Oakland-Berkeley Alameda County Globe

Zellerbach Family Foundation Annual Report 2007

Research Studies: Minority Women Business Owners Center for Women's Business Research
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