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Rural Business Investment Program (RBIP)

Currently applications for non-leveraged Rural Business Investment Companies (RBICs) are being solicited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). 

If you are interested in applying as a non-leveraged RBIC, more information on the current Program Notice and Application Procedure,  and the RBIP Rules in 7 C.F.R. Part 4290 may be found on USDA’s website.

The Rural Business Investment Program (RBIP) promotes economic development in mostly rural areas by helping to meet the equity capital investment needs of smaller enterprises located in such areas. The program is similar to SBA venture capital programs – the Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) and New Markets Venture Capital (NMVC) programs.  USDA licenses newly formed for-profit venture capital companies as Rural Business Investment Company's (RBICs) to make equity, and equity-like, investments mostly in smaller enterprises located primarily in rural areas. 

General Eligibility Requirements:

An applicant may be eligible to apply for an RBIC license if the applicant-

  • Is a newly formed for-profit entity or a newly formed for-profit subsidiary of such an entity;
  • Has a qualified management team with experience in relevant venture capital financing or community development financing; and
  • Will invest in enterprises that will create wealth and job opportunities in rural areas, with an emphasis on smaller enterprises.

Additional Requirements:

  • At least 75% of RBIC investments (measured both by dollars invested and number) must be made in Rural Business Concerns (i.e., an Enterprise whose principal office is located outside a standard metropolitan statistical area or within a community with a population of 50,000 or less). 
  • No more than 10% of investments (measured both by number and dollars invested) may be in Enterprises whose principal office is located in an urban area (defined by the Census as having a population of 150,000 or more.) 
  • At least 50% of RBIC investments (measured both by number and dollars invested) must be in “Smaller Enterprises,” and of those, at least 50% must be in “Small Business Concerns”.

RBIC applicants must identify the rural areas their fund will target and demonstrate how the fund will assist those areas through disciplined, profit-oriented investing in rural enterprises.

RBIP Rural Area Locator: To find out if an enterprise is located in a qualified rural area for purposes of the RBIP, please refer to the following link for USDA Income and Property Eligibility and select Property Eligibility for Business Programs.  From the menu options available, select the Rural Business Investment Program or the Business and Industry Guaranteed Loans; either may be used to determine the eligibility for a specific address under the RBIP.  

For More Information: For background and additional information on the Rural Business Investment Program, please click here to access the RBIP Fact Sheet.

Note: The RBIC application is intended for a newly formed for profit venture capital company that intends to be licensed as a RBIC and intends to raise a minimum of $10 million in private equity capital.  Neither SBA nor USDA will provide debt, debt guarantees, or equity financing directly to small businesses or other entities under the RBIP. Small businesses interested in such financing should visit SBA’s website or the USDA Rural Development website to find a financing program appropriate to your small business needs.

Licensed RBICs:

  • Meritus Ventures, LP
  • PO Box 1738
    London, KY 40743
    Website: http://www.meritusventures.com
    Phone: 606-864-5175
    Fax: 606-864-5194
  • Licensed September 28, 2006
  • Targeted Rural Areas: Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas.