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Monica Braun, OR, Center for Rural Affairs, Phone: (402) 643-2673
Lyons, NE - Utilizing $11,000 in funds provided by the Women & Co.® Microenterprise Boost Program, the Center for Rural Affairs-Rural Enterprise Assistance Project (REAP) Women's Business Center, is pleased to announce that three women microentrepreneurs across rural Nebraska will receive financial support for their enterprises. The entrepreneurs will receive cash awards of $3,000 or $5,000 as well as business skills training from the REAP Women's Business Center to help them with the growth and development of their businesses.
The equity award winners are being recognized at the GROW Nebraska Spring Meeting on April 17, 2009 at Lochland Country Club in Hastings, NE. The REAP recognition of equity award recipients supports GROW Nebraska's mission to maximize the state's entrepreneurial and small business spirit.

REAP clients selected to receive equity awards in 2009 include:
Leala Jimerson, owner of Smarter Treats, LLC, Chadron NE
Elaine Mullin, owner of Elaine's Hair Studio, Pawnee City NE
Connie Harvey, owner of Efficiency Counts, Hastings NE

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 fifth year, is funded by Citi Foundation and managed by the Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO), the national leadership organization and voice of U.S. microenterprise development.  

"The REAP Women's Business Center is one of 13 organizations selected by AEO to serve as a local partner in the program and is responsible for selecting the three women in rural Nebraska to receive the awards," said Monica Braun, REAP Women's Business Center Director. "Our three equity award recipients were selected from many eligible REAP clients, and the competition was stiff."

More than 360 women entrepreneurs nationwide have received a total of more than $500,000 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 the program is to champion underserved women business owners who can truly benefit from this infusion of cash and opportunity for business training" says Linda Descano, CFA®, President and Chief Operating Officer of Women & Co. "Women & Co. is proud to participate in the Microenterprise Boost Program for the fifth consecutive year because we believe that all women should have the opportunity to achieve their financial goals."

Previous Women & Co. awardees have been able to expand their inventory line, purchase a laptop to enhance their services, acquire more current software for bookkeeping, etc.

REAP and the REAP Women's Business Center, an AEO member, provides training, technical assistance and lending services to rural Nebraska business owners. Historically, microenterprises have been considered the backbone of the U.S. economy. AEO estimates there are more than 24 million microenterprises in the U.S. representing 18% of all private U.S. employment and 87% of all businesses. In Nebraska, 86% (145,522) of all businesses are micro businesses, and 1 out of every 6 Nebraska employees works for a micro business, according to figures from the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Census Bureau.

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