USDA Seeking Applicants to Assist Rural Microentrepreneurs
Posted on 08/19/2013 at 12:00 AM by Christa Hartsook
USDA recently announced the availability of loan and grant funds to support rural microentrepreneurs and microenterprises.
USDA's Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP) was established under the 2008 Farm Bill to support the development and ongoing success of rural microentrepreneurs and microenterprises, which are defined as rural businesses with 10 or fewer employees. About $12.2 million will be provided to eligible applicants this year. Under the program, USDA may provide loans of up to $500,000 to Microenterprise Development Organizations (MDOs). They, in turn, make microloans for business start-up or development to eligible microentrepreneurs who are unable to obtain conventional credit elsewhere. Grants of up to $30,000 are available for MDOs to provide technical assistance and training, particularly in rural areas that have experienced significant outmigration. USDA does not directly provide funds to the ultimate recipients.
RMAP applications are due by September 13, 2013. More information about how to apply is available in the August 14, 2013 Federal Register. View it here: www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-08-14/pdf/2013-19765.pdf, or by contacting any USDA Rural Development state office.
RMAP funds have helped a number of small businesses since the program began. In 2010, USDA provided the Southern Illinois Coal Belt Champion Community, Inc., a $500,000 loan and $187,000 grant to capitalize a revolving loan fund and provide technical assistance for microbusinesses in rural southern Illinois. In the first three years of the project, this organization has helped 16 microenterprises with direct loans totaling $650,000 that have created or saved 67 jobs. The businesses supported include medical offices, and retail, restaurant and manufacturing operations.
Since the program began, USDA has provided 97 loans totaling more than $37 million and 124 grants totaling more than $9.5 million to 110 MDOs. These organizations used the USDA funding to make more than 760 microloans to 712 rural microenterprises. This assistance to individual businesses has created or saved an estimated 2,700 jobs.