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The number of U.S. Latina-owned small businesses and microenterprises increased at a rapid clip during the 1990s. An astonishing growth rate of 232 percent between 1988 and 1997 in Latino-owned businesses was reported by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA, 1998). Self-employment rates among Latinas in the United States increased two-fold during the time period from 1990 to 2000 (Census Bureau, 2001). According to estimates there are more than two million microentrepreneurs in the United States (Grameen Foundation USA, 2002; Aspen Institute, 2000). Almost ten million people live along the U.S.-Mexico border. Mexico is the United States' second-largest trading partner, accounting for US $262 billion in two-way trade in 2000 (Department of Commerce, 2002). This study explores the incidence of microenterprise growth in the U.S.-Mexico border economy. I present a case study of a Latina-owned microenterprise engaged in business activities that include transnational trade arrangements with Mexico and other Latin American countries. From this study, a variety of policy issues emerge that affect the ease of trade arrangements and that relate to the growth of microenterprises as a potential poverty-reduction initiative along the U.S.-Mexico border.


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