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|
| Business development
services (traders, agro-dealers, tractor operators, financial service
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.