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The Work for Yourself@50+ programme provides practical guidance, coaching and peer support for potential and current senior entrepreneurs. It aims to facilitate access to resources and opportunities and to increase the financial resilience of vulnerable older adults.  The programme is ran by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) Foundation, which aims to combat senior poverty by building economic opportunities and social connectedness for seniors through programmes related to income generation and protection. The AARP receives public financial support to support its mission.



The Work for Yourself@50+ was initiated to address the needs of the growing number of people over the age of 50 in the United States. Approximately 116 million people (i.e. one-third of the population) is over 50 years old in the United States. One of the main challenges faced by seniors is economic insecurity and limited savings. The programme aims to encourage seniors to consider entrepreneurship and self-employment as an alternative option prior to retirement or as a new endeavour after retirement as a means of generating income, reinventing oneself and strengthening their local economies.


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The AARP Foundation coordinates with local economic development organisations (e.g. community colleges, community development financial institutions, women’s business centres) to deliver the Work for Yourself@50+ programme. The programme includes ongoing workshops, coaching, mentorship opportunities and in some cases, access to financing. It is implemented through a hub and spoke delivery model: The programming is tailored by each provider to ensure that the curriculum and workshops are customised for their local target audiences and take into account the local context and available supports. For example, some local providers have created digital content to reach rural populations, while others have translated curriculum content into different languages to serve their linguistically diverse populations.

Participants can register for free workshops and webinars online or through partner organisations that host the events. These workshops offer senior entrepreneurs an overview of various self-employment opportunities and helps them to decide if entrepreneurship and self-employment is the right avenue to pursue. The programme also provides a toolkit – Five Simple Steps to Get You Started – that includes lesson plans and worksheets. In participating in the Work for Yourself@50+ workshops and events, participants gain access to free tools, resources and guidance. Participants are also able to engage with a network of peers through the local partner organisations and can participate in ongoing programming through these organisations beyond this programme. This fosters access to other resources, and facilitates networking with local actors and fellow entrepreneurs of all ages.


Around 16 000 people have participated in the programme since its launch in 2016 across 39 states and the District of Columbia. In 2019, the programme had 42 partner organisations and hosted 85 workshops. More than 6 100 people participated in the programme that year, of whom 76% were women. A survey found that 70% of respondents reported being self-employed a year after completing the workshop. Moreover, evaluations of the 2019 workshops indicate that participants reported increases in entrepreneurial inspiration and confidence as well as an increase in knowledge. For example, 89% of participants reported that the programme provided them with enough information to “take next step” in their business and most participants felt ready to take concrete action including seeking additional help to grow their business (82%); creating a business or marketing plan (75%); and incorporating their business formally (47%). Participants also reported, on average, an increase of USD 11 000 (EUR 10 200) in annual business revenue after the programme. Moreover, in a follow-up survey several months after the programme, over 25% of participants reported having actively focussed on growing their network, including joining local organisations and finding mentors.


AARP Foundation (2019), Cultivating Entrepreneurship: Work for Yourself@50+ 2019 Report, AARP Foundation, (Accessed on 15 April 2022).