Farms, MSB Unlikely Partners
Published: Friday, January 24, 2014
Updated: Friday, January 24, 2014 02:01
Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business Global Social Enterprise Initiative announced a partnership with the American Farm Bureau Federation to develop rural entrepreneurship Jan. 13.
The joint effort is directed toward rebuilding and further developing economic opportunities in American rural communities.
“We are excited not only about the opportunity to build a signature program for the Farm Bureau that will mine new business opportunities in communities where investors may least expect, but also because the Secretary of Agriculture has given his support and endorsement,” GSEI Executive Director Ladan Manteghi said.
The GSEI was created to provide practical training to potential global business leaders in order for them to make economically and socially impactful business decisions.
“The Global Social Enterprise Initiative aims to train current and future leaders to find opportunity in social challenges, have positive impact with solutions and still meet expectations of shareholders and stakeholders,” Manteghi said.
GSEI is currently partnered with Bank of America, AARP, the State Department, Philips, Accelerated Market-Driven Partnerships and, most recently, the Case Foundation.
“With each partnership, we try to give students practical experience by helping plan programs, do research and analysis, create metrics to gauge progress, help with convening meetings and conferences and writing up results, serving in internships with our partners and make presentations, among other things,” Manteghi said.
The AFBF is the largest grassroots organization of farm and ranch communities in the United States, and has branches in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. It aims to improve the lives of rural families and to reinforce their communities.
For the initiative to be more comprehensive and systematic, GSEI has agreed to collaborate with the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative.
“Rural entrepreneurship is one way to tackle economic prosperity and that is why we have partnered with the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative to build a robust program,” Manteghi said.
“No matter what sort of community you live in, entrepreneurship is among the most powerful drivers of economic and social prosperity,” GEI Founding Director Jeff Reid said.
Especially after the recent economic recession, which severely impacted rural economies, GSEI and the AFBF hope to not only build economic security for those living in rural societies, but also spark an entrepreneurial spirit that will ultimately lead to the creation of diverse innovative businesses in rural America.
“Without the constant innovation and creative economic solutions that entrepreneurial companies produce, communities and regions are likely to experience long-term economic decline,” Reid said. “That is the situation that many rural areas of the United States now face.”
This rural entrepreneurship program includes opportunities for rural entrepreneurs to present their business ventures and receive mentoring, national summits on rural entrepreneurship with AFBF and the United States Department of Agriculture and an online hub where potential businessmen can meet, share their ideas and learn from other rural entrepreneurs’ experiences.
“The first year will be a year learning from what we implement and from there we will build. Rural Rome was not built in a day,” Manteghi said.
The highlights of the program are its training workshops and webinars. Experts in the field will provide market information and market strategies to target specific areas and offer guidance in marketing techniques.
“We do not expect that many rural entrepreneurs will create the next Google or Facebook, but there are plenty of entrepreneurial opportunities in areas such as ecotourism or sustainable farming where being in a rural area can be part of a competitive advantage,” Reid said.