Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today the availability of loan and gran funds to support rural micro entrepreneurs and microenterprises.
“By supporting very small business enterprises through the Rural Micro entrepreneur Assistance Program, USDA have been able to direct assistance to small, rural businesses that otherwise would not be able to obtain the credit," said Vilsack. "This program has shown that even a modest investment of federal dollars can have a huge impact for the local economy in small towns across rural America."
José Otero-García, Rural Development State Director for Puerto Rico indicated that USDA's Rural Micro entrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP) was established under the 2008 Farm Bill to support the development and ongoing success of rural micro entrepreneurs and microenterprises, which are rural businesses with 10 or fewer employees. Under the program, USDA may provide loans of up to $500,000 to Microenterprise Development Organizations (MDOs). They, in turn, make microloans for business star-up or development to eligible micro entrepreneurs 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.
RMAP applications are due by September 13, 2013. More information about how to apply is available in the August 14, 2013 Federal Register announcement or by contacting any USDA Rural Development state office.
In May 11, 2012, USDA provided the Ceiba Housing & Economic Development Corporation, Inc., a $500,000 loan and $105,000 grant to capitalize a revolving loan fund and provide technical assistance for microbusinesses in rural eastern Puerto Rico. In the first year of the project, this organization helped 1 microenterprise with a direct loan totaling $50,000 that has created 5 jobs. The business supported is a new pharmacy in Naguabo. Funds are still available for micro entrepreneurs in rural areas.
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. The assistance to the individual businesses has created or saved more than 2,700 jobs.
President Obama's plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President's leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America's economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA's investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values.
For additional information regarding Business Program can be obtained by visiting USDA’s web site at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov or by calling Danna Quiles at (787) 766-5095 X 173 & 175 or Miguel Ramírez at X 155.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.
To file a complaint of discrimination, write to: USDA, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights. Office of the Assistant Secretary for civil Rights. 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Stop 9410, Washington, DC 20250-9410. Or call toll-free at (866) 632-9992 (English) or (800) 877-8339 (TDD) 0r (866) 377-8642 (English Federal-relay) or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish Federal-relay)