Microenterprises are Reaching New Markets with Craft Entrepreneurship

By Julianna Silva | July 30, 2014

A microenterprise is defined by Wikipedia as a “…type of small business, often registered, having five or fewer employees and requiring seed capital of not more than $35,000.” This type of microbusiness is common in the developing world, less so in developed countries like the US. But “micro-entrepreneurship” is on the rise in the US, especially with the help of technology-focused companies that are creating platforms that enable the “micro-entrepreneur” to sell products and services directly to consumers.

Developed by Etsy, the online marketplace where handmade, vintage and craft supply sellers reach a global market of consumers, “Craft Entrepreneurship” is a model for supporting micro- and solopreneurs that entails teaching business and e-commerce tools to individuals with artistic skills, and helping them start their own craft businesses. Platforms like Etsy have low barriers to entry for micro-businesses and provide opportunities to earn supplemental income. Research from the Aspen Institute demonstrates that those who “patch” their household income through micro-enterprises report “significantly higher earned income from their combined wages” and were more likely to move out of poverty.

In 2013, Etsy established its Craft Entrepreneurship Program to make this economic opportunity more widely available to micro-entrepreneurs in underserved communities. The curriculum teaches business and entrepreneurial skills, using Etsy as the learning lab. Five two-hour classes include: Becoming an Entrepreneur, Building and Marketing a Brand, Photography, Shop Management, and Planning for Growth.

WESST is partnering with Etsy to bring the Craft Entrepreneurship Program to New Mexico and is launching the learning lab workshop series in September 2014 at the WESST Enterprise Center in Albuquerque. Craft Entrepreneurship classes at WESST are taught by successful online craft sellers who coach and support participants through every aspect of setting up their online shops alongside WESST trainers who work with micro-entrepreneurs and small businesses every day. Space is limited and applications for the program are currently being accepted. For more information visit our Craft Entrepreneurship page or go to the Craft Entrepreneurship online application to apply now.

About the Author


Julianna Silva

As Albuquerque Regional Manager for WESST, Julianna serves WESST clients in various capacities — from helping them develop and implement business plans, accounting systems and marketing strategies to providing group trainings on everything from QuickBooks to Social Media. A graduate of the University of New Mexico’s Anderson School of Management, Julianna has over 15 years’ experience mentoring nonprofit organizations, women entrepreneurs, and artists.

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