REAP Selects Women Microentrepreneurs for Six Equity Awards

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Monica Braun,, Phone: (402) 643-2673 or Elisha Smith,, Phone: (402) 687-2103 ext. 1007
Lyons, NE - Utilizing $11,000 in funds provided by the Women and Company® Microenterprise Boost Program, the Center for Rural Affairs—Rural Enterprise Assistance Project (REAP) Women’s Business Center, is pleased to announce that six women microentrepreneurs across rural Nebraska will receive financial support for their enterprises. New this year, we were able to award $1000 to a former Women and Company awardee. The equity award winners are being announced in April and recognized at the GROW Nebraska Spring Meeting on April 18, 2008 at Burchell’s Whitehill Farmhouse Inn near Minden, NE. The REAP recognition of equity award recipients ties nicely with GROW Nebraska’s mission to maximize the state’s entrepreneurial and small business spirit.
REAP is one of only thirteen organizations selected to participate in this nationwide program. The Women & Co.® Microenterprise Boost Program is designed to help low- and moderate-income women who are owners of microenterprises – businesses with five or fewer employees. The program, now in its fourth year, is funded by Citi Foundation and managed by the Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO), the national leadership organization and voice of microenterprise development.

The awards may be used for essential business development activities such as marketing, technology purchases, website development, inventory, or professional services. Recipients will also receive technical training, business development guidance and assistance from REAP staff on growing their businesses and maximizing their equity awards.

“This is our fourth year in this project.  With the nice boost that these awards provided our member businesses the past three years, we are thrilled to once again be a partner in this national project and help Nebraska women-owned businesses,” said Monica Braun, REAP Women’s Business Center Director. “Our business awardees will be invited as our guests to some trainings and special recognition events like the GROW Nebraska Spring Meeting which offers networking and training opportunities. Thanks to the Citigroup Foundation and Women and Company, this innovative initiative makes it possible for us to provide awardees with both cash and skills, two critical elements for business growth and success,” Braun noted.

REAP clients selected to receive equity awards in 2008 include:

Debra Simmons, S&S Sweeper Store, Beatrice NE
Maria Alvarado, Alvarado’s Tax Services, Columbus NE
Dianne Marie, Midwest Quilting and Embroidery, Ord NE
Kerri Chamberlin, Longhorn Restaurant, Kimball NE
Glenna Zwiebel, Z Total Image, Morrill NE

Past Award Winner Becky Wyatt, Becky’s Health Hut, Sidney, NE

Recipients were selected through an application process coordinated by REAP.

More than 300 women entrepreneurs nationwide have received a total of more than $350,000 in equity awards since the Women & Co.® Microenterprise Boost Program began in 2005. The majority of recipients report an increase in sales, revenue, or customers after receiving the award. “The aim of this Women & Co.® program is to champion underserved women business owners who can truly benefit from this small infusion of cash and opportunity for business training” says Amy McKenna Luz, AEO president and CEO. “The program empowers low-to moderate-income women, particularly racial and ethnic minorities, who are often left out of other entrepreneur support services.”

The Center for Rural Affairs’ Rural Enterprise Assistance Project was selected by the Small Business Administration to create a rural women's business center, the first such program in Nebraska.  For REAP, the Women’s Business Center provides an opportunity to enhance its outreach to potential women entrepreneurs and its work with small businesses across Nebraska.  More information about REAP is on our website

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