Rurual Enterprise Project Launches Online Lending for Rural Small Businesses
The Rural Enterprise Assistance Project (REAP), a program of the Center for Rural Affairs, has launched an REAP Online Lending System for startup and existing small businesses in rural Nebraska.
REAP is Nebraska’s largest microenterprise program and operates on a statewide, rural basis through regionally based Business Specialists. REAP provides lending, training, networking, and technical assistance opportunities for startup and existing microenterprises (businesses with 5 or fewer employees).
The new REAP Online Lending System is good news for rural Nebraska entrepreneurs, according to REAP co-director Jeff Reynolds. “Providing access to core business development services to all of rural Nebraska is crucial,” said Reynolds. “The REAP Online Lending System will allow us to reach entrepreneurs we may have not been able to reach before and at the same time will help improve the overall efficiency of our program.”
After months of research, planning and development, the REAP Online Lending System was recently installed on the REAP website. The system can be accessed on the web by going to www.cfra.org/reap and clicking on “Online Lending System.” Along with the Online Lending System, REAP is unveiling a new loan called the “REAP Rapid Loan”. The REAP Rapid Loan utilizes the online application and has a $5,000 maximum limit.
“The REAP Online Lending System will allow us to use technology to reach even more rural entrepreneurs,” said Glennis McClure, co-director of REAP and Director of the Women’s Business Center (WBC), also a project of REAP and the Center for Rural Affairs. “As with the WBC, online lending will be an addition to REAP’s existing infrastructure with business specialists located throughout the state to deliver REAP, WBC, and now online lending services to rural small businesses,” added McClure.
REAP’s WBC is the first and only SBA Women’s Business Center in Nebraska. REAP is also piloting the REAP Hispanic-Rural Business Center, another first for Nebraska. The REAP Hispanic-Rural Business Center will provide Hispanic startup and existing businesses with small business management training, networking opportunities, one-on-one technical assistance, and access to small loans on a statewide rural basis.
REAP offers loans up to $25,000 through the REAP Direct loan program; “Quick Grow” loans up to $5,000 in collaboration with GROW Nebraska; and in some areas of Nebraska, “peer group” loans up to $10,000 through local small business associations.
Since 1999, REAP has placed 170 direct loans totaling $2,295,258. REAP has leveraged an additional $5,516,055 in loans from traditional sources since 1997 through its business planning and loan packaging services.
In rural Nebraska the primary employment source is self-employment and the dominant type is microenterprise. REAP provides key business development services to entrepreneurs. Funding from the Nebraska Microenterprise Development Act, Community Development Block Grants through the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, Small Business Administration, United States Department of Agriculture and other sources make the services possible.
Established in 1973, the Center for Rural Affairs is a private, non-profit organization working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities through action oriented programs addressing social, economic, and environmental issues.
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