Despite the proven success of the SBA Microloan Program and SBA PRIME Programs, the President has requested that Congress discontinue funding for these programs and also reduce funding for the SBA Women’s Business Center in Fiscal Year 2007. The potential loss of these vital federal funding sources represents a critical threat to the future of the American microenterprise industry (businesses with five or fewer employees) and microentrepreneurs across the nation and would obviously be detrimental to the REAP program in Nebraska.
Since 1992, the SBA Microloan Program has been successful in serving many communities across America, specifically in those areas suffering from a lack of credit due to economic downturn. In 2005, the Microloan Intermediaries across the country provided over $32 million in new loans. These are individuals who, despite facing challenges to successful business ownership, strike out to make better lives for themselves, their families, and their communities. These borrowers are unique to the Microloan program, and are not adequately served by alternate government programs, as suggested in the Administration’s 2007 Budget Proposal.
The Rural Enterprise Assistance Project (REAP) has been an SBA Microloan Intermediary since 1992. The SBA Microloan program is the place where REAP and close to 200 other similar organizations in the United States receives their loan capital and technical assistance funds in order to serve rural entrepreneurs. REAP is also proud to operate Nebraska’s only SBA Women’s Business Center.
The President has also requested severe funding cuts for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) programs, both of which help to fund the work of REAP.
While federal funding for microenterprise has decreased steadily over the past 5 years, microenterprises – the nation’s smallest businesses – have played an increasingly large role in our nation’s economy. Across the United States, over 27 million microentrepreneurs account for 17% of all private employment. The Microloan Program is the nation’s largest funder – public or private – of microenterprise capital and technical assistance. For many very low and moderate income entrepreneurs, these programs represent the only opportunity they have to receive business training, a business loan, and a real chance at success through self-employment.
We need you to take action now and help get these critical programs back in the FY 2007 budget.
There are several ways you can take action:
1) If you have access to the web, you can go to http://capwiz.com/aeo/dbq/officials/, enter your zip code and automatically submit the “Entrepreneur’s Message to Congress” letter through the Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO) website. AEO is the national trade association for programs like REAP in the US.
2) You can call your Congressional offices at 202-224-3121 and let them know that these programs are vitally important to America’s job growth and economy and let them know how REAP and other microenterprise programs have helped you, your community, and rural America.
REAP and other microloan programs are making a difference in rural America because of individuals just like you. We look forward to serving you, your community, and future entrepreneurs well into the future. Many entrepreneurs would not be able to receive critical lending, training and technical assistance services without programs like REAP.
Please feel free to call us if you need further information or explanation. The time to advocate is now and hopeful of your participation. Let’s show Congress that rural America does have a voice and wants these key programs back in the FY 2007 budget. Thank you in advance for taking action.