From Bees to Sharks

One of the great things about being a REAP Loan Specialist for the Center for Rural Affairs is the fact that you participate in lots of activities. From attending conferences and meetings to developing trainings and providing coaching to a variety of businesses, you are constantly meeting new people.

In April, I participated as a judge at the Shark Corral, an entrepreneurial competition organized by Central Community College in Columbus, Neb. Members of the Columbus Area SCORE Chapter, small business owners, and important leaders of the community attended.

While many of the competitors had great ideas, a young entrepreneur shined over the rest of the group. This teenager was able to demonstrate it doesn’t matter how old you are to be confident, focused, ambitious, knowledgeable, and sharp. I have a feeling this won’t be the last time I hear from her.

Abby Lyons, of Dwight, Neb., has been learning about the bee business since she was five. She had input in all the decisions under the family’s Limited Liability Company (LLC), Ab-Bee’s Honey at an early age. This young entrepreneur understands how to run a business efficiently and make it profitable. It won't surprise me if Ab-Bee’s Honey, LLC is one of those businesses that starts in a garage and turns into a multi-million dollar company.

With 13 years in the banking and lending world, I have a sixth sense that tells me when I’m looking at a good project. So at the competition I took an extra step and offered a REAP Small Business Loan to help Abby’s business grow.

A low interest rate and good terms were part of the deal. It was an attractive proposal, and I thought she was going to accept. But in the end she decided not to take the loan. Abby had received an order she was not expecting and was able to get the money from a different source. This is another reason to like her; she puts her mind over her heart.

I received a thank you card yesterday expressing Abby’s gratitude about REAP’s loan offer and the support we provided during the competition. It is unclear if she will use REAP in the future, but it was a pleasure to meet her.

Feature image:  Abby Lyons is 3rd from the left in the front row, and I am furthest left in the 2nd row. Photo of contestants and judges courtesy of  Central Community College.