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

Monday, February 13, 2006

REAP Partners With Microenterprise Boost Program

REAP Partners with Women and Company Microenterprise Boost Program

Rural Nebraska Women to Receive Cash Equity Awards

Lyons, Nebraska – The Center for Rural Affairs –REAP Women’s Business Center is proud to announce that it has been selected again as a Local Partner for the Women and Company Microenterprise Boost Program. Through this program, REAP will have an opportunity to provide cash equity awards from $500 to $2500 to women microentrepreneurs who have worked with the REAP program in rural Nebraska communities. The program is designed to help women grow and develop their businesses. The Center for Rural Affairs -REAP was chosen as one of fifteen Local Partners throughout the country to participate in this program in 2006. In 2005, REAP Women’s Business Center received the top “Excellence in Microenterprise Work with Women Entrepreneurs” award from AEO and Citigroup Foundation for this program.

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 the Citigroup Foundation, the program will distribute equity awards to women microentrepreneurs through Local Partners across the country. The program is managed by the Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO), 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 equity awards will be announced by REAP in March. As part of the program, equity award 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. Applicants for the equity awards must have worked with REAP in some significant way, either by being an active member of REAP, attending a REAP training, or having worked with a REAP Business Specialist for business technical assistance within the past year. REAP Business Specialist contacts can be found on the web at

Citigroup, the leading 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, securities brokerage, and wealth management. Major brand names under Citigroup's trademark red umbrella include Citibank, CitiFinancial, Primerica, Smith Barney and Banamex. Additional information may be found at

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

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

The Center for Rural Affairs’ Rural Enterprise Assistance Project was selected by the Small Business Administration to create a rural women's business center, the first such program in Nebraska. For REAP, the Women’s Business Center provides an opportunity to enhance its outreach to potential women entrepreneurs and its work with small businesses across Nebraska. More information about REAP is on our website REAP is U.S. Small Business Administration.

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.

post a question or comment here or contact John Crabtree,

Center for Rural Affairs
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