On Thursday, July 31, USDA announced that it has provided $300,000 in grant funding to each of 10 organizations to provide training and technical assistance to rural micro-entrepreneurs who are seeking to start or grow rural small businesses. The $300,000 is carry-over funding from previous years, not to be confused with the $1.5 million in grant funding and $24 million in loan capital that USDA made available in May. USDA is expected to announce these latter awards in the fall.
According to the USDA press release, the $300,000 in carry-over technical assistance grants “will fund new projects, including the Our Native American Business Network’s initiative to provide training to Native American entrepreneurs from the Muscogee (Creek) and Cherokee Nations in Oklahoma who are interested in launching new rural small businesses.”
We are pleased to note that the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks or ACE-Net, an NSAC member organization via the Central Appalachian Network, received one of the training and technical assistance awards. They do amazing work building businesses through incubators, loans, and training, as well as through policy development. We featured a different ACEnet project and federal funding award in an earlier blog post.
RMAP is administered by USDA’s Rural Business-Cooperative Service. The program provides loan capital and technical assistance funding to Microenterprise Development Organizations (MDOs), who in turn provide loan capital and technical assistance to micro-entrepreneurs. There are three categories of funding that are available through RMAP:
- Loan capital to MDOs to provide fixed interest rate microloans of less than $50,000 to rural entrepreneurs for the development of microenterprises in rural areas. Loans through MDOs cannot exceed a twenty-year timeframe and need to bear an annual interest rate of at least 1 percent. Each MDO must establish a loan loss reserve fund and keep at least 5 percent of the outstanding loan balance in reserve.
- Technical assistance grants to MDOs to provide marketing, management, and other technical assistance to microentrepreneurs who have already received or applied for an RMAP loan through an MDO. The maximum annual grant award can be no more than 25 percent of the organization’s outstanding microloan balance. This assistance could include but is not be limited to networking, online collaboration and marketing, grant-writing, entrepreneurship workshops or conferences.
- Technical assistance-only grants to MDOs that seek to provide business-based technical assistance and training to eligible microentrepreneurs and microenterprises, but do not seek loan funding.
See below for the full list of organizations that received the new grant awards to provide technical assistance and training to rural microentrepeneurs.
- Jefferson Economic Development Institute
- Yuba-Sutter Economic Development Corporation
- Two Rivers Resource Conservation & Development Area
- Northern Kentucky Community Action Commission, Inc.
- Mississippi University for Women
- Our Native American Business and Entrepreneurial Network
- Bridgeway Capital, Inc.
- Community Development Transportation Lending Service
- GROW Washington