REAP, the Center's small business development program, has reached an historical plateau in placement of loans. We closed a loan in northeast Nebraska that put us over 10 million dollars loaned for the history of the program. This is a significant accomplishment for us. But more importantly, it is a testament to rural Nebraska entrepreneurs and their entrepreneurial spirit!
In December of 1990 the very first REAP loan of $1,000 was made at Cedar Rapids using a step-up, peer lending model. With peer lending, the first loan could be for no more than $1,000, and it didn’t require collateral or prior training. Now 24 years later, REAP has placed over 1,000 small business loans totaling over $10 million dollars while also leveraging over $17 million dollars in loans from other sources due to our assistance.
In 2002 we reached the first $1 million in direct loans. Surpassing the $10 million mark now speaks to the need for and success of our program. These small loans are important to Nebraska businesses and to our economy.
REAP loans help people start or expand small businesses across rural Nebraska. Many times rural areas experience a lack of quality employment. Starting a small business is the best and sometimes only option to make a living. Close to 90% of the businesses in Nebraska are microenterprise in size (10 or fewer employees).
Since 1990, REAP lending and loan packaging services have been responsible for the creation and/or retention of over 6,600 jobs. Expert REAP Loan Specialists provide both pre- and post-loan counseling assistance with each REAP borrower. This expert service is big part of the reason REAP has a historical default rate of less than 3%.
So you reached $10 M in lending, what now?
Big changes are taking place in 2014 and future years. REAP and the Center for Rural Affairs continue navigating the rigorous process of becoming a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). A wholly owned subsidiary corporation known as the “Rural Investment Corporation” will house the Center for Rural Affairs-REAP CDFI.
We’re also working on changes and updates in the area of online assistance, new and innovative loan products, and establishing productive collaborations with various programs and organizations throughout Nebraska and the United States. We’ll keep you updated on progress with these and other cutting-edge changes.
REAP is striving to achieve maximum scale in rural Nebraska. All our staff is committed to strengthening rural communities through small, self-employed business development. We look forward to making a critical difference for all startup and existing small businesses in rural Nebraska in need of core small business services.
Please note: The entrepreneur who received the loan that put us over $10 million will be featured in the next edition of the REAP Business Update newsletter. Meanwhile, for more information, contact the Center for Rural Affairs at 402.687.2100 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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