REAP Mission and History

The Rural Enterprise Assistance Program (REAP) of the Center for Rural Affairs is committed to strengthening rural communities through small, self-employed business development.

REAP was started by the Center for Rural Affairs in 1990 to meet the needs of the self-employed in the rural Midwest. A Center study in the late 1980’s showed a high rate of self-employment in rural areas, but no economic development strategies to help this sector.

We provide individuals with business management training, technical assistance, lending capital and networking opportunities for starting and growing a business. Roundtables of micro-entrepreneurs are formed in rural areas of Nebraska and support the delivery of these services.

Formerly a “Peer Group” lender only, in 1998 we piloted our Direct Loan Program. It makes individual loans up to $50,000, intended to assist those entrepreneurs who are falling between the cracks where no other lending capital is available. Since 1990, we have placed nearly 870 loans totaling close to $8.2 Million and leveraged over $14.4 Million from other sources (as of 9/1/12).

The REAP Women’s Business Center (WBC), the first such program in Nebraska, continues to excel in reaching rural women entrepreneurs as it enters the 10th year of operation in 2011. We also continue to expand the REAP Hispanic Business Center (HBC) to provide key business development services to rural Hispanic entrepreneurs. REAP uses business specialists located throughout the state to deliver our services.

REAP provides critical-core programming that is designed to fill gaps that exist for rural startup and existing small businesses. Gaps filled include loans, business counseling, training and networking opportunities. REAP is able to help in the fulfillment of the Center for Rural Affairs values of progress, opportunity, ownership and control and fairness through action oriented programming and a dedicated staff, board and organization.

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