Publication Date



Numerous theoretical frameworks have been used to explain factors that influence outcomes of poor families engaged in self-employment. Theories related to human capital, social capital, andfinancial assets have guided most studies. Using data from fourteen institutions promoting self-employment among the poor, and drawing on the institutional theory, this study finds that theories related to individual influences do not adequately explain all the phenomenon.Controlling for a wide range of individual characteristics, there is a statistically significant association between institutional influences and participants’ outcomes. Policy makers shouldconsider a range of institutional characteristics when designing policies and programs aimed atpromoting self-employment among poor families.

Document Type

Working Paper


Financial Inclusion


Asset Building

Original Citation

Ssewamala, F. M., & Sherraden, M. (2004). Integrating savings into microenterprise programs for the poor: Do institutions matter? (CSD Working Paper No. 04-05). St. Louis, MO: Washington University, Center for Social Development.


American Dream Policy Demonstration (ADD)


IDA, individual development account, microenterprise, savings, institutional theory, ADD, American Dream Demonstration