Enterprise Programs: Freeing Entrepreneurs to Provide Essential Services to the Poor

August 9, 2011

Enterprise Programs, which reduce or eliminate regulatory barriers for entrepreneurs who provide an essential service predominately to poor and distressed families, would free entrepreneurs to provide improved services to the poor, and allow the poor to become entrepreneurs themselves.  A new report from a task force of experts assembled by the National Center for Policy Analysis examines five essential services -- transportation, child care, security, housing and health care -- that would benefit from targeted regulatory relief.


  • Legal restrictions prevent entrepreneurs from using their vehicles to take groups of people to closely situated destinations -- especially transporting workers to and from job sites -- and are often designed to protect taxicab owners from competition.
  • With an Enterprise Program, entrepreneurs would be free to create jitney services and carry more than one passenger to various destinations for whatever price the market will bear.

Child Care.

  • Legal limits, such as child to adult ratios and zoning restrictions, often put child care services out of reach for the poor.
  • A properly designed Enterprise Program would help bring safe and practical solutions to low-income Americans.

Security Services.

  • Requiring private security personnel to complete training programs administered by state or local police agencies, for example, may needlessly restrict entry and thereby place the cost of services out of reach for neighborhood associations in poor areas.
  • A properly designed Enterprise Program would help bring realistic and cost-effective policing options to low-income Americans.


  • Zoning restrictions and building codes can thwart market solutions to the housing problems of poor Americans.
  • With an Enterprise Program, less restrictive housing and zoning laws (where appropriate) would help bring alternative housing solutions to low-income Americans.

Health Care.

  • Legal restrictions prevent market solutions to health care access for low-income Americans.
  • For instance, restrictions on medical practices often prevent nurses, physician assistants and paramedics from providing valuable services.
  • With an Enterprise Program, places like store-front clinics would be freer to operate and bring the services of nurses, physician assistants and paramedics to poor Americans.

There are other essential services, such as education, that could be targeted.  Local citizens know the problems in their communities, and local entrepreneurs could no doubt propose other services to the poor that should be eligible for the program.  This report is intended as a starting point for such dialogues.

Source: "Enterprise Programs: Freeing Entrepreneurs to Provide Essential Services to the Poor," National Center for Policy Analysis, August 9, 2011.

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