About Us

To help people explore, launch, and grow successful small businesses through training and support.

A strong and vibrant economic future for our community and clients and a regional environment that offers resources for business development and fosters entrepreneurial growth.

Who We Are

MicroEnterprise Resources, Initiatives & Training (MERIT) is a non-profit organization working to address the root causes of poverty by empowering economically, socially, and physically challenged individuals to increase self-sufficiency and build personal assets.

MERIT works with people who would not normally access business support services. MERIT offers its services at a very low-cost to individuals who fall below 80% of HUD’s median family income level; consequently, most of our clients find our services to be very affordable. By creating their own jobs, our clients are empowered to increase income, build assets and move themselves out of poverty.

Partners and Funders:

Merit Funders Logos - NALCABMerit Funders Logos -Wells Fargo v2Merit Funders Logos Ford Family Foundation Merit Funders Logos -Chemeketa Community CollegeMerit Funders Logos -Northwest Area Foundation v2

Our Impact

Since its inception, MERIT has helped over 700 people determine if entrepreneurship was right for them through one of our business planning workshops. There are over 150 active businesses in the mid-Willamette Valley as of January 2012 (34%), that participated in our programs.

In fiscal year 2011-2012, 121 individuals received business education through MERIT in which 55% were at low-moderate income, 58% resided in rural communities, 64% were women, 21% were ethnic minorities, 12% were disabled, and 40% unemployed. MERIT helped 30 existing businesses last year and to date 16 business have launched.
For more on our impact, read MERIT Success Stories!

MERIT is growing and making big impacts in our community. We take pride in our history and are excited for the future. Our mission, vision, and values drive our dedicated staff and board to continue to serve our community with excellence. We appreciate our community partners and funders as we recognize that our impact would not be realized without their support.

Collaborative initiatives that MERIT is involved with:

    • The Mid-Valley Prosperity Network (MVPN) is a collaborative initiative between local organizations to increase the financial capabilities of families and individuals through financial education, asset building, credit rebuilding and repairing, and access to capital.
    • Expo Negocio is an annual event presented by the Latino Business Alliance. MERIT is proud to have been a part of supporting the development of this much needed event that strengthens the latino business community by providing needed resources and bridges the gap between Latino and non-Latino communities.
    • Nourish Yamhill Valley is a community collaborative effort seeking to create a holistic, equitable, and resilient food system in Yamhill County that improves food security and addresses healthy food habits for all households. We believe this collaboration and our participation in it will lead to a stronger local economy and community.
    • The Alliance for Latino Microenterprise Development is a collaboration among community based training organizations working together to train and support Latino micro-entrepreneurs and to create small business and microenterprise opportunities for low-income Latinos in the greater Portland area, including rural areas around Salem, Oregon.


Latest News


MERIT to Launch Second Phase of Financial Empowerment Academy

Salem, Oregon – Tuesday February 20, 2018 – In a motivating influence for the Willamette Valley community, MERIT (Micro Enterprise Resource Initiatives and Training) continues providing comprehensive financial and business resources for local business owners and families.

MERIT is a 501(c)3 non-profit, located in downtown Salem’s Center for Business and Industry, and has been helping determined individuals blossom into prosperous business owners in our community for over 13 years. True to their philosophy, MERIT has been a resource in providing training and workshops for local entrepreneurs and business owners who wish to take their ideas to the next level.

Through Initiatives such as group classes, IDA’s (3 to 1 matched savings), lending circles and coaching; MERIT has helped seed the foundations of main street businesses throughout the Willamette Valley.


Our Funding Partners

Merit Funders Logos - NALCAB
Merit Funders Logos -Chemeketa Community College
Merit Funders Logos -Northwest Area Foundation v2
Merit Funders Logos Ford Family Foundation
Merit Funders Logos -Wells Fargo v2