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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release February 5, 1999

                            February 5, 1999

Today, President Clinton Presents The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Microenterprise Development. The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Microenterprise Development were created as one of the commitments made by the United States at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing China in September 1995. The awards reflect an on-going commitment by President Clinton to advance the role that microenterprise development plays in enhancing economic opportunities of all Americans, especially those that lack access to traditional sources of credit such as women, low income people, and minorities. President Clinton directed the Treasury Department to establish the Presidential Awards (which are administered by the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund to help bring wider public attention to the important role and successes of microenterprise development in the domestic economy. The first Presidential Awards were made in January 1997 and are made in different categories designed to embrace the diverse goals, purposes and activities of successful microenterprise organizations, and the challenges and opportunities they face.

This Year's Awardees (And Some of Their Clients' Stories) Are:

     The Micro Industry Credit Rural Organization (MICRO), a loan fund 
     of the PPEP Microbusiness and Housing Development Corporation, of 
     Tucson, Arizona.  Established in 1987, MICRO is one of the oldest 
     Hispanic development organizations and one of the oldest 
     microenterprise loan funds in the nation.  MICRO is recognized as 
     a Presidential Awardee in the Access to Capital award category for 
     its best practices as a high impact, credit-oriented model for 
     promoting micro entrepreneurship in low income, rural Arizona 

          Client Profile:  Maria Jesus "Chuyita" Gaxiola was a 
          migrant farm worker, widowed with two small daughters, 
          barely surviving on her daughters' Social Security 
          income and speaking no English when she first visited 
          MICRO in 1993.  She was nevertheless possessed of 
          extraordinary drive and tenacity, and over the next 
          several years participated in a series of programs at 
          MICRO including ESL classes and training in basic 
          business skills.  From an initial microenterprise loan 
          of $1,500, she was able to expand her cosmetics, jewelry 
          and accessories business into a thriving entity which in 
          1998 brought in $60,000 with a net profit to Chuyita of 

     The Detroit Entrepreneurship Institute, Inc. (DEI) of Detroit,
     Michigan, provides a one-stop shop for aspiring microentrepreneurs.
     Created in 1990, DEI is recognized as a Presidential Awardee in 
     the Developing Entrepreneurial Skills award category for providing 
     a uniquely comprehensive range of training, technical assistance 
     and business support services targeted to welfare recipients and 
     low income individuals.

          Client Profile:  Jacqueline Tucker is a divorced mother of 
          three children who started a small catering business after 
          completing her training at DEI.  Jacqueline, a divorced 
          mother of three children who was on welfare for 10 years, 
          was determined that there would be no second generation 
          welfare recipients among her children.  She was one of DEI's 
          first graduates and borrowers in 1991, and repaid her first 
          $2,000 loan six months before it was due.  Jacqueline's 
          three children have played an active role in her business, 
          with the entire family often helping with food preparation 
          and display, clean up, loading the van, and billing.  In 
          addition to learning how to manage a business, Jacqueline 
          now feels more confident as a citizen, mother and woman.  
          She states that, after participating in the DEI program, 
          she began to grow as a person.  Jacqueline has now been 
          off welfare for more than five years.

     The Northeast Entrepreneur Fund, Inc. (NEF) of Virginia, Minnesota.
     Created in 1989, NEF is recognized as a Presidential Awardee in 
     the Developing Entrepreneurial Skills award category for its 
     strong commitment to developing and implementing impact measures 
     for assessing the performance of training-based microenterprise 
     programs, as well as providing an effective and flexible model for 
     delivering skill development services to rural entrepreneurs.

          Client Profile:  Carol Willoughby first became a NEF client 
          in 1991 when she was launching her sign making business, 
          which she began by making wedding and church banners in her 
          living room in order to supplement her family's income.  
          Today, her business provides convention, sporting event, 
          and special promotion signage for the Duluth area and the 
          upper Midwest.  Carol no longer paints signs; instead she 
          creates her signs out of vinyl with the aid of two computer 
          systems.  During the years she has operated her business, 
          Carol has received training, technical assistance and 
          financing from NEF.  Each year, Carol has established and 
          achieved her business and financial goals.  The company's 
          sales in 1998 were 20 times what they were in 1991.  For 
          Carol, owning her own business "has been a dream come true,"
          and she credits NEF for helping her to make it happen.

     The Institute for Social and Economic Development (ISED) of Iowa 
     City, Iowa was founded in 1989 and has proven its long term 
     staying power while maintaining a strong and aggressive commitment 
     to serving its low income clientele.  ISED is recognized as a 
     Presidential Awardee in the Poverty Alleviation award category for 
     its success in serving low income clients, its effective program 
     design and its commitment to promote the evolution of the 
     microenterprise field through impact measurement.

          Client Profile:  Dancing since she was six years old, Rhonda 
          won local and regional dance competitions and always dreamed 
          of owning her own dance studio.  By 1990, Rhonda was the 
          assistant gymnastics coach at the local YMCA, as well as a 
          dance coordinator and aerobics instructor.  That year, 
          however Rhonda's life took a rough turn when her husband went 
          to prison.  Rhonda, with an infant son to support, found 
          herself with no health insurance and insufficient income to 
          make ends meet.  She was forced to go on welfare.  However, 
          Rhonda was determined to get off of welfare and rebuild her 
          life.  Rhonda went through ISED's three-month training 
          program and received technical assistance to obtain financing 
          and get a business started.  In June of 1994, ISED helped 
          Rhonda get a $8,200 loan from a bank, and with it she opened 
          the Showtime Dance School.  "The early days and months were 
          rough," said Rhonda. "But, ISED was there to help me get
          through.  They were both my best friend and business 
          consultant."  By the following year, Rhonda had made enough 
          money to get off of public assistance.  Today, Showtime has 
          260 enrollments and offers instruction in tap, ballet, jazz, 
          point and lyrical dance for ages three and up.  Rhonda paid 
          off her bank loan in full in May 1998.  In 1998, Rhonda's 
          business had approximately $60,000 in gross income and 
          $30,000 in net income.

     The Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) of Washington 
     D.C. and San Francisco, CA.  Founded in 1978,  CFED has been one 
     of the leading lights in the development of the U.S. 
     microenterprise industry.  CFED is recognized in the Public or 
     Private Support for Microenterprise Development award category 
     for its steadfast and long-standing commitment to low income 
     people and its vision, creativity and initiative in moving the 
     microenterprise industry to new heights at every stage of its 

          Client Profile:  CFED is a policy and research institute, 
          and as such does not have its own microentrepreneur clients. 
          However, its list of accomplishments is long.  This Awardee 
          carries out its mission by:  conducting research and program 
          evaluation; pioneering new credit and asset-building 
          strategies tailored to the needs of low-income people; 
          collecting and disseminating information to the field on 
          best practices in microenterprise development; providing 
          training and technical assistance to many leading 
          organizations in the microenterprise field; and serving as 
          a strong and effective voice for the industry.  Among many
          other claims to fame, CFED helped launch several of the
          industry's leading microenterprise development organizations
          including four Presidential Award winners -- three 1998 
          winners, Detroit Entrepreneurship Institute, Inc., Institute 
          for Social and Economic Development, and Northeast 
          Entrepreneur Fund, Inc. and Women's Self Employment Program 
          (a 1997 winner).

     The Montana Microbusiness Finance Program (MMFP) of Helena, 
     Montana builds the capacity of local organizations to promote 
     community asset-building and microbusiness ownership.  Created in 
     1991, MMFP is recognized in the Public or Private Support for 
     Microenterprise Development award category as a state-sponsored 
     model for creating and growing microenterprises in a rural state.

          Client Profile:  In 1994, Kevin and Heidi Snyder were seeking 
          to purchase a racquetball club business.  Kevin and Heidi had
          previously managed a health club while he was attending 
          college and studying business management, yet no local bank 
          would lend them the money.  The Snyders approached the 
          District VI Human Resource and Development Council, one of 
          the microlenders supported by MMFP, for a loan.  After 
          purchasing a building for The Total Body Racquetball and 
          Fitness Center with the loan, they expanded the weight 
          training equipment, added a tanning bed and started a 
          racquetball league.  In 1995, Kevin and Heidi refinanced 
          their first microloan, purchased equipment, and were able to 
          add an aerobic exercise room with a second microloan.  They 
          have since added nutrition counseling and a pro shop to
          their range of services, and plan to build an indoor swimming
          pool.  They have also added to their family, and currently 
          switch off responsibilities for raising three young boys with 
          that of managing the Center.  The Snyders were winners of the 
          1998 Montana Microenterprise of the Year Award.  They 
          attribute much of their success to MMFP, for backing them 
          when no one else would, and for the business counseling, 
          training and other assistance that enabled them to go so 
          successfully from launch to thriving business.