Micro Enterprises and re:con
Micro enterprise is defined as a small entrepreneurial activity – its guiding principles include:
• Begin with a small amount of money.
• Get the business up and running in a short time.
• As a business owner, remember time is worth money.
• Change happens one person at a time.
Micro enterprise participants have found that it is not always the income or profit that drives business owners in their quest for entrepreneurial success. For some entrepreneurs, the business is more about having quality activities, relationships with others and a purpose and pride in daily activities.
Microbusinesses can also help to address the issue of work disincentives inherent in Social Security and Medicaid policy, which remains a significant barrier to a successful employment outcome for people with intellectual / developmental disabilities. A micro enterprise can be structured as a simple corporation, offering the possibility of holding assets in the corporation, rather than in the individual’s name – when direct income could threaten SSI benefits and Medicaid eligibility.
Proponents of micro enterprise options for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities also point to other potential quality outcomes:
• Increased income, independence, and community integration
• Enhanced self-esteem and quality of life
• Broadened array of choices, including the prospect of becoming an employer
Many MARO member organizations help bring ideas and innovation to life through Micro Enterprise development, assisting individuals who are interested in starting their own business. Prospective entrepreneurs can learn to develop and execute a business plan based on their own strengths and resources, as well as receive assistance with market research, brand development, writing business plans, marketing and sales, and leadership skills.
As an association, MARO also supports micro enterprises at our annual fall professional development event – re:con, the convention of new beginnings. One of the features of this event is a Micro Enterprise Mall – an exhibit area for small businesses owned and operated by people with disabilities, selling products and marketing services.
A scholarship fund has been developed to support these consumer entrepreneurs – since 2011, we have offered scholarships covering the re:con exhibit fee, and overnight accommodations at the Grand Traverse Resort for the micro business owner. MARO has assembled a relay team to participate in the Grand Rapids Marathon; as the runners train, the team is raising money for this scholarship fund – our third year of assembling a “run 4 re:con.”
I have been a dedicated runner most of my adult life, and participating in the re:con running / fundraising initiatives has been a wonderful experience. This year, however, injuries have prevented me from training sufficiently to contribute as a runner. But I firmly believe in the value of micro business development as an employment option for individuals with disabilities, and am proud of this scholarship program as a feature of re:con – and therefore have decided to complete a 50-mile bike tour through northern Michigan in October, raising money for the scholarship fund along the way.
I’ll post progress updates along the ride on the social media sites for MARO and re:con. To stay connected to our sites, please like our pages at
Support our marathon relay runners (and the bike ride) and donate to this scholarship fund