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There are several ways in which RAS can begin to engage and advise agripreneurs.

  • Awareness building: A first step for RAS agencies is to hold learning events with their staff and potential clients about their role in going beyond traditional training to strengthening agripreneurship.
  • Learning alliances: These are innovation platforms for both service providers and agripreneurs in target value chains to support innovation, adaptive research, and learning. For example, in Central America and Africa the Centre for Tropical Agriculture has led several agro-enterprise learning alliances with NGOs, research organisations, governments, and private companies.
  • New project designs: Development projects may be designed to support different types of clients, including farmers and agripreneurs. For instance, in Nicaragua, Catholic Relief Services designed a project where half the funds were used in grant form so that RAS could provide technical assistance in training, innovation, and business planning; the other half were assigned to a community investment fund used to help launch agripreneurs to finance their new businesses.
  • Impact investment networks: Investors hold regular meetings to identify how to support specific sectors, offering opportunities for agripreneurs to discuss ideas with impact investors, and to make pitches that typically combine a combination of grants and investment options. Examples of networks where agripreneurs can meet with investors and leaders of social enterprises to propel entrepreneurship in emerging markets include Social Capital Markets (SOCAP) and Aspen Network for Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE).

Rural advisory services can also provide direct support for agripreneurship, as in the following examples.

  • Agripreneur workshops: RAS can develop training sessions that work with combinations of agro-enterprise agencies including investors, production experts, and marketing experts.
  • Agripreneur competitions: RAS organisations can sponsor enterprise competitions, where the best business plans are funded to a specific level, or winners enter into training programmes that help agripreneurs to plan and launch their businesses.
  • Agripreneur incubators: Capacity-building programmes enable RAS providers to work directly with agripreneurs to help identify new markets, strengthen market access, upgrade value chains, and provide support in management skills. Through these incubators, RAS can help to facilitate and broker business relationships between emerging agripreneurs, and learn from leaders in target business areas (see Box 2 for an example).
  • Agripreneur accelerators: Short-term booster services work with agripreneurs to fine-tune business models. For example, Santa Clara University in California runs booster courses to help agripreneurs launch new ventures.
  • Agripreneur mentoring/coaching: Once agripreneurs have launched businesses, these services provide occasional support as required to maintain business focus, competitiveness, and innovation.

Box 2: a-IDEA in India

Among several initiatives to foster agripreneurship that are being tested by the Indian Government, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research’s National Academy of Agricultural Research Management (ICAR-NAARM) has established the Association for Innovation Development of Entrepreneurship in Agriculture – a-IDEA. This incubation centre helps to identify and develop businesses, provide access to knowledge, and facilitate networking with other support services fostering innovation and entrepreneurship in agriculture. ICAR-NAARM hosts three initiatives:

  • a technology business incubator (a-IDEA)
  • an agri-business incubator (NAARM-ABI)
  • a grassroots innovations hub (NAARM-GRI).

One successful startup business sells branded A2 protein milk.{popuzp text="(3)"}A2 protein milk is pure cows’ milk that naturally contains only the easy-to-digest A2 protein, and is free from A1 protein which some people struggle to digest.

The agripreneur, a retired airforce officer, is one of a new breed of farmers who combine knowledge, innovation, and business acumen to generate highly profitable agro-enterprise ventures. This agripreneur is now seeking to expand his business into certified organic milk and milk products to reach new consumers in the premium organic market. His business ideas are far ahead of conventional milk producers in the region, and his success is partly thanks to the agribusiness incubation support available from NAARM-ABI.