Economic strengthening through entrepreneurial and microenterprise development has been shown to mitigate poverty-based health disparities in developing countries. Yet, little is known regarding the impact of similar approaches on disadvantaged U.S. populations, particularly inner-city African-American male youth disproportionately affected by poverty, unemployment, and adverse health outcomes. A systematic literature review was conducted to guide programming and research in this area. Eligible studies were those published in English from 2003 to 2014 which evaluated an entrepreneurial and microenterprise initiative targeting inner-city youth, aged 15 to 24, and which did not exclude male participants. Peer-reviewed publications were identified from two electronic bibliographic databases. A manual search was conducted among web-based gray literature and registered trials not yet published. Among the 26 papers retrieved for review, six met the inclusion criteria and were retained for analysis. None of the 16 registered microenterprise trials were being conducted among disadvantaged populations in the U.S. The available literature suggests that entrepreneurial and microenterprise programs can positively impact youth’s economic and psychosocial functioning and result in healthier decision-making. Young black men specifically benefited from increased autonomy, engagement, and risk avoidance. However, such programs are vastly underutilized among U.S. minority youth, and the current evidence is insufficiently descriptive or rigorous to draw definitive conclusions. Many programs described challenges in securing adequate resources, recruiting minority male youth, and sustaining community buy-in. There is an urgent need to increase implementation and evaluation efforts, using innovative and rigorous designs, to improve the low status of greater numbers of African-American male youth.
- Health disparities
- Microenterprise development
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Health(social science)