Fiscal Year 2016 was a record-setting year for Center for Rural Affairs’ Rural Enterprise Assistance Project (REAP). In 2016, we placed and leveraged over $2.9 million in loans and reached significant numbers of women and Latino entrepreneurs across Nebraska.
We are respected nationally as an outstanding microenterprise development program that serves rural entrepreneurs and small businesses in Nebraska. REAP is the largest rural microenterprise development program in the United States.
Use of microenterprise and small business services is at an all-time high, which truly speaks to the ability and capacity of our staff to produce results.
Staff members work hard to reach as many rural entrepreneurs as possible. We are making a major difference through tough times, and look to continue building the scale and efficiency of the program.
During fiscal year 2016, REAP provided assistance to 2,372 entrepreneurs. Over 75 percent of entrepreneurs served were low to moderate income. More than 63 percent were women, and 48 percent were Latino. REAP placed 123 loans totaling $1,739,880 and leveraged an additional $1,172,088 from other sources due to our loan packaging assistance. REAP lending and counseling during this time frame helped create or retain 688 jobs (258 due to lending only).
Since REAP’s inception in 1990, we have placed 1,266 loans totaling $14,103,011 while leveraging an additional $22,243,415 from other sources thanks to the work of our staff.
We have a national reputation for innovation and for meeting the evolving needs of today’s start-up and existing entrepreneurs in Nebraska.
Our staff serves all populations in rural Nebraska, including the expanding Latino population. In response to this growing segment of our population, we developed and launched the New American Loan Fund.
The New American Loan Fund’s purpose is to offer loan products that lower barriers to access and provide capital that allows for job creation in the Latino community.
Our services are based in our belief in diversity, inclusion and equity, and in our commitment to creating opportunity for rural Latino entrepreneurs.
The New American Loan Fund works outside the margins of conventional financing systems while creating an entry point for new Americans to eventually access the mainstream system. The fund speaks from and for the experiences and needs of unconventional markets.
Additionally, REAP recognizes that building a positive credit history is difficult for many entrepreneurs, especially those who are unable to access traditional financing or who use institutions that do not report loan payments to major credit bureaus. In response, we are developing a Credit Builder loan product for small businesses. We will roll out this new and innovative loan product in fiscal year 2017.
We continually assess the best way to deliver services and tailor products and services to fit the needs of today’s entrepreneurs.
In 2016, Rural Investment Corporation (RIC) successfully launched a small business lending product with a maximum loan limit of $150,000. RIC is a wholly-owned subsidiary corporation housed within the Center for Rural Affairs and is a certified Community Development Financial Institution.
In 2017, we will work to update online assistance items, create new and innovative loan products, and form new collaborations with programs and organizations throughout Nebraska and the United States.
We’ll keep you updated on progress with these and other cutting-edge changes with REAP and the Center for Rural Affairs.
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