Your business can apply directly for the loan and grants above. The programs below aren’t available to small businesses—but that doesn’t mean your business can’t benefit from them.
The Intermediary Relending Program (IRP) loans fund organizations that in turn can lend that money to rural small businesses. Small-business owners can’t apply directly, but you can look for local organizations that received financing through IRP.
Rural Business Development Grants (RBDG) go to organizations and communities that help rural small businesses expand—whether that’s by providing business training, improving transportation in the area, or giving technical support. While you can’t get the grant yourself, you might be able to benefit from the programs the grant funds.
The Rural Business Investment Program (RBIP) gives venture capitalists a Rural Business Investment Company license so they can invest in rural communities. If you’re okay giving up business equity, you might be able to get financing from RBIP-licensed venture capital firms.
Rural utility organizations can get a Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant (REDLG), which they can use to create a revolving loan fund for local businesses. These are interest-free loans, so definitely see if someone in your area is participating in this program.
The Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP) goes to nonprofits and colleges, who can use the funds to provide microloans of up to $50,000 to rural small businesses. Again, you can’t get these microloans directly from the USDA. But if an organization in your area participates in RMAP, it’s a great way to get small, low-cost loans.
Socially-Disadvantaged Group Grants (SDGG) go to rural organizations that provide specific kinds of technical assistance (like leadership training, feasibility studies, or business planning) to, well, socially disadvantaged groups. In USDA-speak, that translates to people who’ve experienced prejudice because of their race or ethnicity.