FAO completes update of tools for rural entrepreneurs

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has completed the latest update to its toolkit, which aims to revolutionize small and medium-sized rural entrepreneurship.

RuralInvest, a methodology developed by the FAO Investment Center, offers its users a theory-to-practice path to help entrepreneurs create sustainable and bankable business plans.

In the absence of clear and effective business models, it is difficult for farmers and rural entrepreneurs to convince financial institutions and banks to invest, also given that agriculture is often considered a risky investment and its profitability is difficult to assess. More than 80 percent of the world’s food is produced by family farms, but less than 10 percent of smallholders have access to finance.

The idea behind RuralInvest is to help small and medium-sized entrepreneurs thrive by enabling them, through specially trained intermediaries, i.e. platform users, to translate their business ideas and vision into concrete plans that can attract investors.

Based on the FAO team’s many years of experience in rural investment, the methodology and its software are constantly being improved, with impressive results. Over the past five years, RuralInvest has supported the growth of more than 1,000 agribusinesses in over 15 countries, raising around $34 million in investment to date and supporting a new generation of rural businesses around the world.

The latest version of the software offers a user-friendly multilingual interface combined with practical support available to a wider range of users.

How it works

The free toolkit is supported by brand new software called RIV20, accessed through the RuralInvest website, recently updated through close collaboration with FAO’s Digitization and Information Technology Division, enabling users to develop professional and quality business plans.

The field technician understands the farmer’s vision, learns how and what data to collect, and feeds it into software that automatically organizes the information and brings to life clear and visually effective business plans.

The approach is bottom-up, with constant communication between the RuralInvest user and the farmer interacting and exchanging ideas in group sessions using the RuralInvest business plan, in order to add value and content to the entrepreneur’s vision.