It’s exciting to see the rising tide of business startups in America—many of them by young people from rural communities. Innovative rural Americans are starting everything from ag technology businesses to companies that make food and other products right on the farm. It’s even more exciting to think of what these new businesses might do for struggling rural economies if they can catch fire and grow.
The American Farm Bureau is helping rural entrepreneurs develop business ideas related to food and agriculture. Our Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge gives these entrepreneurs a chance to showcase their innovations and pitch their ideas to multimillion dollar investors. They access information about how to tap into venture capital, market their businesses and take their innovations to the next level. The Challenge participants compete for up to $145,000 in startup funds. And while the money certainly is a big part of the Challenge, participants tell us they also value the mentorship from entrepreneurship experts and the camaraderie with other rural entrepreneurs. It can seem mighty lonely out there if you have a great business idea but don’t know who to talk to about tapping into business networks, training and other resources. The Challenge helps rural entrepreneurs jump over those hurdles.
Do you know someone in rural America who is starting an agriculture or food business? Do you have a way to get information out to rural entrepreneurs about the Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge? I hope you will help us spread the word. The more rural entrepreneurs we can help, the better! This year’s Challenge started on May 1 and applications are due by June 30. Visit www.strongruralamerica.com/challenge for more information.
Rural America has always been a place of self-reliance and self-starters. Through our rural entrepreneurship initiative, we’re putting that spirit of self-reliance to work to help rebuild our rural communities!
Vincent “Zippy” Duvall, a poultry, cattle and hay producer from Greene County, Georgia, is the 12th president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.