USDA seeks applicants for funds to assist rural microentrepreneurs

JANS – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced the availability of loan and grant funds to support rural micro-entrepreneurs and microenterprises.

“By supporting very small business enterprises through the Rural Micro-entrepreneur Assistance Program, USDA has been able to direct assistance to small firms that otherwise might not be able to obtain 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.”

Despite budget uncertainties, USDA remains focused on strengthening the rural economy. USDA’s Rural Microentrepreneur 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 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 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. 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 at www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-08-14/pdf/2013-19765.pdf, or by contacting the Mississippi USDA Rural Development state office at 601-965-4316.