Blog for Rural America

The Center for Rural Affairs, a private, non-profit organization, is working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities. Permission to reprint items from this web log is hereby granted, on the condition that clear credit is given to the original source of the material. If the blog provides information for a story, please let us know by sending an email to johnc@cfra.org.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

REAP Selected as Local Partner for Women and Company Microenterprise

-- from the desk of Glennis McClure, Center for Rural Affairs –REAP Women’s Business Center

Local Women Microentrepreneurs in Rural Nebraska to Receive $1,000 Cash Awards

(Lyons, Nebraska: 2/23/05) – The Center for Rural Affairs –REAP Women’s Business Center is proud to announce that it has been selected to be a Local Partner for the Women and Company Microenterprise Boost Program. Through this program, REAP will have an opportunity to award $1,000 cash equity awards to at least five women microentrepreneurs who have worked with REAP in rural Nebraska communities, to help them grow and develop their businesses. The Center for Rural Affairs -REAP is one of only eight Local Partners chosen for this program from throughout the country.

The Women and Company Microenterprise Boost Program is designed to provide low and moderate income women microentrepreneurs the opportunity to achieve greater business success by providing cash awards that will have a measurable impact on the development of their business. Supported by a grant from the Citigroup Foundation, the program will distribute up to seventy-two equity awards to women microentrepreneurs through Local Partners across the country. The program is managed by the Association for Enterprise Opportunity, a national membership association for the microenterprise development industry, representing hundreds of microenterprise development programs across the country. Women and Company, a division of Citigroup that provides access to financial education and resources for women, will work with AEO to implement and promote the program.

“Women and Company is proud to participate in this program because we believe all women should have the opportunity to achieve their financial goals,” said Lisa Caputo, President and CEO, Women and Company. “More and more women are finding they can begin to achieve financial independence by starting their own businesses, and these grants can have a practical and immediate impact as they strive to grow these businesses.”

REAP (Rural Enterprise Assistance Project) consists of four elements including; networking, business management training, credit and technical assistance. Local rural communities form associations or roundtable networking groups which meet for discussing business ideas and problems, networking, ongoing training and reviewing loan applications if a local loan loss reserve is established. REAP is an SBA micro-loan program and operates the only SBA funded Women’s Business Center in Nebraska. REAP staff provide technical assistance, loan packaging assistance and training to rural small business owners.

The recipients of the $1,000 cash equity awards will be announced in March and April, and, in addition to the cash equity award, the recipients will receive technical training and assistance from REAP on growing their business and maximizing their equity award. The awards may be used for essential business development activities such as marketing, technology purchases, website development, inventory, or professional services.

Citigroup (NYSE:C), the preeminent global financial services company has some 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 100 countries, providing consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, insurance, securities brokerage, and asset management. Major brand names under Citigroup’s trademark red umbrella include Citibank, CitiFinancial, Primerica, Smith Barney, and Banamex. The Citigroup Foundation focuses its grants primarily in three areas: financial education, educating the next generation, and building communities and entrepreneurs. Additional information may be found at www.citigroup.com.

Women and Company is a membership program from Citigroup designed to help women expand their financial knowledge, and prepare themselves for financial decisions that life’s transitions often bring. Women and Company provides financial education through conference calls, Master Classes, and newsletters; personal attention through toll-free resource lines for questions related to taxes, general finance, care giving, survivorship and real estate issues; and special savings on select Citigroup financial products. Additional information may be found at www.womenandco.com.

The Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO) is the national association of community-based organizations that provide entrepreneurial education, access to capital, and support to aspiring and active low-income entrepreneurs. AEO's mission is to support the development of strong and effective U.S. microenterprise programs to assist underserved entrepreneurs in starting, stabilizing, and expanding businesses. To learn more about AEO or microenterprise, please visit our website at www.microenterpriseworks.org.

For more information contact Glennis McClure, Center for Rural Affairs –REAP Women’s Business Center 402.645.3296 or Liz Fogarty, Citigroup, 212-559-0486.

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