September 2003  Issue No. 21                    REAP HOME PAGE         A publication of the Center for Rural Affairs

Rural Enterprise Reporter

REAP Womenís Business Center Review
The need for solid business support for women entrepreneurs stayed strong this year.

BY GLENNIS MCCLURE, REAP WBC DIRECTOR

The demand for business technical assistance, help with business planning, increased sources of business capital, and just plain solid support for women who aspire to own a business in Nebraska continues to be strong.

The Center for Rural Affairsí REAP program has worked throughout the past year to enhance outreach to women entrepreneurs in rural Nebraska through the second year of our Womenís Business Center (WBC) project.

Unique Center Concept
REAPís Nebraska Womenís Business Center covers all rural areas of the state. Our staff travels out to assist client businesses, conduct training sessions, and coordinate business networking meetings in communities. REAPís WBC is a ďcenter without walls.Ē

Our idea from the beginning was to continue what REAP has done throughout its history Ė to take our services out to clients across Nebraska. One WBC office could not begin to meet the needs or come close to the outreach necessary to have an impact in rural development. REAPís WBC has field staff in eight offices covering Nebraska.

Year Two Successful
The main objectives of the Womenís Business Center follow, with an explanation of our accomplishments for the year in each area.

○ To serve self-employed women who have existing and start-up businesses across rural Nebraska.

REAP staff provided 653 individual counseling sessions with an average clientele base of 357 throughout the year. New contacts totaled 372 people. We helped significantly with 46 start-up businesses, 27 solely owned by women and 7 more owned 50-50 by male and female together. Combined, 74 percent of the start-up businesses we helped involved a woman owner or co-owner.

○ To improve REAPís ability to deliver Basic Business Training.

Twelve Basic Business Plan courses were held across Nebraska during year two of the WBC project. In the fall of 2002, REAP and the South Sioux City, Nebraska, Sioux Area Small Business Association hosted our first training in Spanish with 11 registrants and 5 businesses completing the course.

REAP co-sponsored three eCommerce trainings in the second half of the WBC fiscal year. Altogether we recorded 104 training sessions held at various locations across the state with 774 individuals participating.

○ To increase REAPís outreach to provide training, technical assistance, networking, and lending, targeting socially and economically disadvantaged women.

REAPís existing infrastructure helped provide Womenís Business Center services across rural Nebraska. We significantly passed our milestone projections for the WBC in year one and two.

REAP made 49 micro loans (totaling $622,912) to member businesses through the year, with 37 or 76 percent of these loans going to businesses that were owned and operated at least 50 percent or more by women. REAP also documented working with 29 leverage loans totaling just over $1 million.

We are looking ahead in year three of the project to helping Nebraska businesses network, especially women-owned businesses. By mid-year we hope to reveal a new networking model that can be implemented in communities in Nebraska without an active REAP association. REAP will remain diligent in our microenterprise lending work and in providing timely technical assistance to all clients as needed.

Contact: Glennis McClure, REAP WBC Director at 402.645.3296 or reapwbc@diodecom.net for more information.

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Center for Rural Affairs -- Rural Enterprise Assistance Project
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