FAO supports field technicians working with rural entrepreneurs, putting them on track to successfully grow their businesses and improve their quality of life.
Through RuralInvest the field technician understands what the farmer’s vision is, learns how and which data need to be collected and inputs it into the software, which automatically systematizes the information and brings to life clear and visually effective business plans.
Photo: FAO/Luis Tato
Rome – The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has finalized the latest update of a toolkit that aims to revolutionize small and middle-sized rural entrepreneurship. RuralInvest, the methodology developed by the FAO Investment Centre, offers its users a path from theory to practice, to assist entrepreneurs in creating sustainable and bankable business plans.
In the absence of clear and effective business models, farmers and rural entrepreneurs find it challenging to convince financial institutions and banks to invest, also given that agriculture is often considered a risky investment and its profitability difficult to gauge. Over 80 percent of the world’s food is produced by family farming, yet less than 10 percent of smallholders have access to finance.
The idea at the heart of RuralInvest is to make small and medium-sized entrepreneurs thrive by empowering them, through specially trained intermediaries – that is, platform users – to translate their business ideas and vision into concrete plans that can attract investors.
Based on the FAO team’s decades of experience in the field of rural investments, the methodology and its software have been constantly fine-tuned yielding impressive results. Over the past five years, RuralInvest has supported the growth of more than 1,000 agribusinesses in more than 15 countries, catalyzing an estimated $34 million in investment to date and supporting a new generation of rural enterprises worldwide.
The latest version of the software, offers a user-friendly, multilingual interface, combined with hands-on support, opening to a wider range of users.
How it works
The free toolkit is supported by a brand new software called RIV20, accessed via the RuralInvest website recently updated through close collaboration with the FAO Digitization and Information Technology Division, which enables users to develop professional and quality business plans. The field technician understands what the farmer’s vision is, learns how and which data need to be collected and inputs it into the software, which automatically systematizes the information and brings to life clear and visually effective business plans. The approach is bottom-up, with ongoing communication between the RuralInvest user and the farmer, who interact and exchange ideas in group sessions using the RuralInvest business plan, with the objective of adding value and substance to the entrepreneur’s vision.
Who can use RuralInvest?
The toolkit is mainly designed for field technicians, extension agents and business plan development consultants. It also partners with national institutions – universities or entrepreneurship centers – that can train professionals for the use of RuralInvest through a series of free e-learning courses and face-to-face trainings, as well as with national financial institutions, such as banks, that can use RuralInvest as a tool for developing and evaluating business plans.
This article was originally published by FAO