REAP has coined a phrase known as PIE. It stands for Production, Innovation, and Evolution. This a model to deliver great results and predict the future needs of entrepreneurs. I’m proud to share some of our key accomplishments from the past year with you.
Production: Another great year. In Fiscal Year 2013, REAP worked with large numbers of startup and existing entrepreneurs throughout Nebraska. We placed and leveraged close to $3,000,000 in loans and reached significant numbers of women and Hispanic entrepreneurs. The need for our services is at an all-time high, showing the massive need for our services in the state. REAP has proven we have the ability and capacity to produce results.
REAP staff are working hard to reach as many rural entrepreneurs as possible. We’re proud to make a major difference in challenging economic times. Due to the overwhelming need for services in rural Nebraska, we always look for better ways to build the scale and efficiency of our program.
From July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013, REAP provided assistance to 2,107 entrepreneurs. Over 70% were below low- to moderate-income levels. Over 63% were women. Of all the entrepreneurs served, 40% were Hispanic.
In this time frame, we placed 78 loans totaling $1,084,950 and leveraged an additional $1,777,685 from other sources due to our “loan packaging” assistance. REAP lending and assistance helped create or retain 518 jobs.
Since REAP began in 1990, we have placed 949 loans totaling $9,367,681. We leveraged an additional $16,232,574 from other sources due to REAP assistance. That’s over $25 million in lending capital.
Innovation: The best ideas come from our customers. REAP has a national reputation as an innovative program. We’re known for striving to better meet today’s small business needs. Our innovation and direction is solely based on working with REAP’s creative, energetic entrepreneurs.
We use several methods to determine the changing needs of Nebraska's entrepreneurs. Staff live and work in small towns and rural communities across the state, and they encounter entrepreneurs daily. We’re also a networked nonprofit, collaborating with people and organizations across the state and the nation, continually learning.
But you know our best method? Back in 2008 we started a statewide Small Business Needs Assessment. We’ve done the survey every two years since, and it has paid dividends for REAP and others involved in small business development. Survey results identify what’s at the top of the “needs” list for startup and existing small businesses, and help us adjust our programming accordingly.
A good example of recent REAP innovation and collaboration is the Nebraska Small Business Collaborative (NSBC). This dynamic collaboration of experienced and high-performing Microenterprise Development service providers includes REAP, Community Development Resources, and Catholic Charities Micro-business Training & Development Program.
The collaborative offers one-on-one technical assistance, various small business trainings, loan packaging, and micro-loan access up to $50,000 for small businesses of 10 employees or less. Services include linking micro businesses to additional resource providers and lending sources, including commercial lending sources. These programs and services are available statewide in distressed areas of Nebraska, allowing a greater reach for underserved rural and urban entrepreneurs.
Evolution: Mission stays the same, but organizational model gets an update. Big changes are slated for REAP in 2014 and future years, though our commitment to helping Nebraska’s small businesses is unwavering. The Center for Rural Affairs continues navigating the rigorous process of having REAP become a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI).
A CDFI is a specialized financial institution dedicated to serving low-income individuals and communities that lack access to financial services from mainstream financial institutions. CDFI’s offer loans for small and micro-size businesses and provide services such as business planning and one-on-one counseling.
We’re also working on additional changes and updates in online assistance, new and innovative loan products, and establishing productive collaborations with various 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.
REAP strives to achieve maximum scale in rural Nebraska. We’re committed to strengthening small towns and rural communities through small, self-employed business development. Our entire staff works every day to make a critical difference for all startup and existing small businesses in
rural Nebraska. These businesses need core small business services. We will meet that need head-on.
You can discover more about REAP at cfra.org/reap. View our historical timeline here. Read more about REAP Efforts in FY 2013–Making a Clear Difference