In late 2004, a group of microenterprise practitioners organized a teleconference call to discuss the idea of forming a state wide network of agencies and organizations serving micro enterprises. The first call was held on December 7, 2004. Eleven practitioners representing five microenterprise development organizations participated in that call. Since then, there have been many more teleconferences and collaboration meetings. Participants in these discussions agreed there was a need for the formation of a state wide initiative to support micro entrepreneurship, advocate for strong policies, coordinate resources, and more. Washington State Microenterprise Association (a network of microenterprise organizations, professionals and advocates in Washington state) was created to fill these needs.
In October 2007, the WSMA became an independent, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and named Teresa Lemmons as its first executive director. In 2007, the Washington State Legislature enacted the Microenterprise Development Act. Our association received funding to provide capacity building support to Microenterprise Development Organizations around the state to better serve companies with five or fewer employees business training, technical assistance and microloans.
In 2012, The Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee issues their JLARC Report in 2012 summarizing work by the association for the three biennia. Also that year, WSMA hosted our Entrepreneurship Symposium for business leaders, MDOs and other economic development associates across the state who gathered to network around business development and entrepreneurial services in Washington.
In June 2019, the WSMA wrapped up a statewide rural initiative that provided micro-grants to 11 existing and emerging MDOs across the state, supporting projects such as Spanish language programs in Walla Walla, on-line lending platforms, business training in a women's prison, and more.