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Agripreneurs are not typical clients, nor do they seek traditional training schemes. For RAS to be relevant to this new generation of clients, they need to work with a range of agripreneurs to test combinations of innovation, community development, new finance methods, and business models.

One complication for RAS is operating effectively with a diverse range of rural actors – including producers, processors, traders, and agrodealers; women and men; young and old – all with varying needs and gendered roles. First, RAS need to learn how to match clients with the right type of services; then to facilitate specialised training to support their needs. To provide a more inclusive approach to agripreneurship, RAS need skills in defining client types and identifying their needs. Being able to categorise clients using effective diagnostic skills is a critical first step in defining the most useful strategies to support them. Decisions are then needed on what support the RAS itself can offer, and what types of service require more specialised providers. To help identify key client types and services, a classification into four general categories of agripreneurs can be helpful (Table 1).


Type of actor Characteristics Service needs
  • Seeking to optimise their production and marketing opportunities
  • Interested in developing businesses that supply higher-value markets
  • Likely to operate as individuals rather than traditional farmer cooperative models
  • Includes youth and women farmers
  • Ability to use technologies to improve productivity and value
  • Plans to maximise profits
  • Ways to rapidly innovate their business and achieve scale
  • Links with new partners to accelerate their commercial ambitions
  • Identify and exploit new business areas and financial services
Commercial farm
  • Focus on helping members to differentiate themselves
  • Want to capture value from more lucrative formal markets
  • Prepared to pay for advisory services if they are effective
  • Upgrade their management skills
  • Identify more specialised services to access higher-value markets
  • Refresh and scale their business models
  • Access new lines of credit
  • Often working higher up the value chain at the aggregation and product transformation level
  • May combine farm production with value addition
  • Often work with other farmers to meet their supply needs
  • Capture value beyond the basic production level
  • Diversify their product range to supply higher-value/volume markets
  • Ability to trace the flow and quality of goods from farmers to factory
  • Ability to innovate with farmers, technology suppliers, and research
  • Use technologies to meet food standards 
 Business development
services (traders, agro-dealers, tractor operators, financial service
  • Agripreneurs who offer services to the agricultural community
  • Often work with farmer groups/cooperatives with specialised services
  • Help with efficiency gains and competitiveness within the value chain 
  • Pilot new ideas with value chain clients and financial services
  • Support in innovation
  • Facilitate links with business mentors
  • Mentor the business as it matures to support viability and growth 


In supporting agripreneurs, RAS can link them with expert services and specialists such as:

  • marketing experts
  • production experts
  • technology experts
  • postharvest management experts
  • financial service experts
  • value chain experts
  • business mentors.

To support agripreneurs, RAS need to be flexible in terms of their roles. In many cases, their main role will be to find expertise and enable others to access the right types of knowledge, rather than attempting to provide services themselves. Key skills that extensionists need in addition to basic extension skills include:

  • adult learning, gender support, and facilitation methods
  • sound understanding of the agricultural innovation system and value chain in which the agripreneur works
  • marketing basics and working with value chains
  • diagnostic skills and stakeholder management to link agripreneurs with the relevant service providers
  • innovation and systems thinking
  • business planning and business launching
  • financial management and advice on raising capital to meet needs
  • running a business and brokering relationships.

Rural advisory services also need to think differently in their service provision – considering combinations of free and fee-based methods to meet the needs and demands of agripreneurs.