The Center’s Rural Enterprise Assistance Project (REAP) received the first place Excellence in Microenterprise Work with Women Entrepreneurs award from the Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO) for its work in the Women & Company Microenterprise Boost Program. This was the top award made to local program partners across the nation.
The Women and Company Boost Program was designed to provide low and moderate-income women microentrepreneurs the opportunity to achieve greater business success by providing cash awards that have a measurable impact on their business’ development.
REAP is a small business support program for Nebraska’s rural micro businesses. The Boost program allowed REAP to make nine $1,000 cash equity awards to women-owned REAP businesses. The nine women entrepreneurs had more than gratitude to show for the money. Each one told of the positive impacts the funding provided their businesses.
“It was just amazing to hear about the uses and outcomes that $1000 made in these businesses. The money helped market the businesses, helped with the cost of continuing education, helped with new product and enterprise development, and in some cases made it possible to upgrade software and hardware technology,” said Glennis McClure, Center for Rural Affairs and Director of the REAP Women’s Business Center.
This project reinforced the notion that small amounts of capital can make a big impact for small businesses. Working with REAP offers several advantages. REAP business specialists are located across the state and provide technical assistance and expertise in creating or updating a business plan. Borrowing from a REAP association or through the new REAP Rapid Loan program is another potential benefit.
A grant from the Citigroup Foundation provided the Boost grant funds, and they were managed by the Association for Enterprise Opportunity, a national membership association representing microenterprise development programs across the country. Women and Company, a division of Citigroup that provides access to financial education and resources for women worked with AEO to implement and promote the program.
Local partner awards were based on project management, success stories, and measurable business impacts. REAP has submitted an application to be a program partner in 2006.
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