In 1995 the United Nations Fourth World Conference on women placed a spotlight on microenterprise development as one of the most promising approaches for alleviation poverty. But questions remain about microenterprise development's true impact and success. This professional report assesses the impact of public and private microenterprise development programs in Mexico, uncovers their strengths and weaknesses, and finds that these programs are not as successful at alleviating poverty as is commonly believed. This is because it appears that the lowest-income population receives only minimal -- if any -- economic benefits from these programs, and because the service providers often do not practice stable and sound financial and administrative practices.
This report proposes an initial framework for analyzing success, suggests that more emphasis be placed on the social development aspects of these programs, and recommends how the Mexican public sector should best support microenterprise development. Funding more reliable, objective research projects is key. The report concludes that, although there is some potential for microenterprise development, Mexico should concentrate on broader finance reform in order to best serve the lowest-income sector.