Who We Serve


Mercy Corps Northwest is committed to assisting low-income citizens of Oregon and Washington to create more productive, secure and satisfying lives for themselves, their families and their communities. We support them in increasing their economic self-sufficiency and community integration by providing resources and support in their efforts to improve their lives.

At a Glance: Client Demographics

  • Our clients across programs are 70% female and 30% male. In our small business programs, 63% of clients identify as female
  • 80% of our clients identify as underserved within our region representing people of color, immigrants or migrants, women or gender non-binary and non-English speakers
  • 1 in 3 of our clients identify as People of Color including Hispanic, African-American, Asian, American Indian and other historically marginalized groups
  • The majority of MCNW clients live at, or slightly above, the federal poverty line and below 80% of Median Family Income (MFI). Rarely do our clients’  incomes exceed 200% of the prevailing U.S. government poverty rate.

Microenterprise in Oregon

Microenterprises (companies with 5 or fewer employees) make up over 86% of all Oregon and Washington businesses. Most microenterprises operate as sole proprietorships, creating employment for the owner and often other family members.  They are often our neighborhood “mom and pop” businesses.  They face unique challenges and are denied access to conventional lending due to a lack of operating history, credit, or collateral.

Nationally microenterprises represent the vast majority of all US. businesses. These microenterprises added between 4.5 and 5 million new jobs between 2000-2005.  In 2002, following the 2001 recession, microenterprises still created close to 1 million new jobs.

An Opportunity at Hand

Statistically over 90% of all existing US microenterprises are not well served.  They lack what they need to help them thrive—funding and business expertise.  This is a missed opportunity for everyone.  When small businesses flourish, we all benefit.

Some of the broader social impacts of microenterprise development:

  • New local services and products
  • Graduation from public assistance
  • Progress out of a poverty income
  • Sustained self-employment
  • Job creation and retention
  • Stronger tax base