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Promoting access to finance for rural entrepreneurs
The RuralInvest toolkit aims to revolutionise small and middle-sized rural entrepreneurship. The latest update was made available on the website of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in March 2023. The toolkit offers its users a path from theory to practice, and assists entrepreneurs in creating sustainable and bankable business plans.
In the absence of effective business models, farmers and rural entrepreneurs find it challenging to convince financial institutions to invest, especially given that agriculture is often considered a risky investment and its profitability difficult to gauge. Over 80 per cent of the world’s food is produced by family farming, yet less than 10 per cent of smallholders have access to finance.
The idea at the heart of RuralInvest is to help small and medium-sized entrepreneurs to thrive by connecting them up with specially trained intermediaries – i.e. platform users. Together, they translate the entrepreneurs’ visions into concrete plans that can attract investors.
Based on the FAO team’s decades of experience in rural investments, the methodology and its software have been continually fine-tuned – with impressive results. Over the past five years, RuralInvest has helped more than 1,000 agribusinesses in more than 15 countries to grow, catalysing investments of around USD 34 million so far 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 it up to a wider range of users.