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Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business and American Farm Bureau Federation Collaborate on Rural Entrepreneurship

Newsroom / January 12, 2014

Partnership Focuses on Encouraging Innovative Business Ventures to Help Strengthen Rural America

WASHINGTON, D.C. , January 13, 2014 – The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and The Georgetown University McDonough School of Business Global Social Enterprise Initiative (GSEI) today announced a partnership to help strengthen rural America. The multi-year collaboration will address solutions to building greater economic opportunity and security for those who live in rural communities, starting with a program involving the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative to advance rural entrepreneurship.

The GSEI, Entrepreneurship Initiative, and AFBF collaboration kicked off today at the AFBF annual convention in San Antonio with remarks by U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and AFBF President Bob Stallman In comments, Vilsack credited the effort as a private, collaborative way to help spur entrepreneurial spirit that will lead to small business creation in rural America.

“It creates a sense of entrepreneurship so that you have investors and entrepreneurs looking for opportunities to start businesses in rural areas,” Vilsack said. “The program dovetails with what we are doing at USDA – trying to educate investment banks and investors about the opportunities to invest in rural opportunities.”

“It’s often said that farmers are this country’s original entrepreneurs,” said Stallman. “Our partnership with Georgetown is dedicated to giving them and other leaders in rural communities nationwide both a forum and the practical means to brainstorm, strategize and bring their 
inspirations to fruition and, ultimately, strengthen their communities.”

“The Global Social Enterprise Initiative is focused on developing business solutions that deliver both economic and social value,” said Bill Novelli, distinguished professor of the practice at Georgetown McDonough and former CEO of AARP. “Together with AFBF and our Entrepreneurship Initiative, we will reach out to rural communities – a vital part of America particularly hit hard by the recent recession – with tools and initiatives that fuel their innovative spirit and drive.”

Initial components of the rural entrepreneurship program on which AFBF and Georgetown will collaborate include:

  • Rural Innovation Challenge to provide an opportunity for rural entrepreneurs to showcase their ideas and business ventures in a collegial, yet competitive environment, and to receive mentoring and recognition;
  • National summit on rural entrepreneurship that convenes thought leaders in rural economic development, public policy, and entrepreneurship to discuss barriers and solutions to increased business development in rural areas;
  • An online rural innovation hub that highlights stories of rural entrepreneurs’ experiences, learning, and successes, and serves as a virtual meeting place for individuals to share information; and
  • Training workshops and webinars that give business tools and guidance in areas such as market research, concept and product development, pitch development and fundraising techniques, marketing, and more.

About the American Farm Bureau Federation
With family members at the county or parish level in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, the American Farm Bureau Federation is the unified national “Voice of Agriculture,” working to enhance and strengthen the lives of rural Americans and to build strong, prosperous agricultural communities. AFBF is the nation’s largest and most influential grassroots organization of farm and ranch families. Additional information may be found at or follow on Twitter @FarmBureau.

About the Global Social Enterprise Initiative
The Global Social Enterprise Initiative at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business aims to prepare current and future leaders to make responsible management decisions that yield both economic and social value. Through practical training for global business leaders, the initiative promotes transformative solutions to and impactful investments in the world’s significant challenges in health and well-being, economic growth, the environment, and international development. Learn more at or follow on Twitter @GSEI_Georgetown.

About the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative
The Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative inspires Georgetown University students to be entrepreneurial, teaches them the entrepreneurial lessons learned by others before them, connects them to useful resources, and helps them pursue their own unique entrepreneurial interests. The initiative manages an array of courses and extracurricular programs to serve the Georgetown University entrepreneurial community, both within and outside of the McDonough School of Business, and fosters strong connections to the vibrant Washington, D.C., entrepreneurial community and the Georgetown Alumni Association. Signature programs include the Hoya Challenge Business Pitch Competition, the StartupHoyas Incubator, the MSB Entrepreneurial Fellowship, the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Alliance, the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Faculty Exchange, Entrepreneurs in Residence, and events such as Georgetown Entrepreneurship Day, the Venture Capital Investment Competition, and Global Entrepreneurship Week. Learn more at Connect @hoyaprenuer #StartupHoyas.

About Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business
Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business provides a transformational education through classroom and experiential learning, preparing students to graduate as principled leaders in service to business and society. Through numerous centers, initiatives, and partnerships, Georgetown McDonough seeks to create a meaningful impact on business practice through both research and teaching. All academic programs provide a global perspective, woven through the undergraduate and graduate curriculum in a way that is unique to Washington, D.C. – the nexus of world business and policy – and to Georgetown University’s connections to global partner organizations and a world-wide alumni network. Founded in 1957, Georgetown McDonough is home to some 1,400 undergraduates, 1,000 MBA students, and 1,200 participants in executive degree and open enrollment programs. Learn more at Follow us on Twitter @msbgu.

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