FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean

Present and Future of Innovative Rural Entrepreneurship


Live Broadcast


As part of the 2023 Science and Innovation Forum (SIF 2023) organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), this regional event aims to showcase the pivotal role of innovative rural entrepreneurship in driving economic, social, and environmental development in Latin America's rural areas. By promoting an engaging, multidisciplinary dialogue, this event seeks to highlight the transformative potential of innovative entrepreneurship in rural communities.

The event also addresses the pressing concern over how the transformative potential of innovative entrepreneurship is being unequally realized for the poor, threatening to amplify the region’s already acute inequality in agriculture. Unlike Startups serving larger farms, AgTech ventures seeking to serve smallholders face critical difficulties to reach commercial viability and scale. The result: smallholders are being largely overlooked by the accelerating AgTech Revolution transforming the region’s agriculture. Our panel will discuss why and propose potential solutions to lift this critical roadblock.

By assembling a diverse and interdisciplinary panel, this digital roundtable aims to foster a focused and strategic discussion on how to equitably unlock the transformative potential of innovative rural entrepreneurship and the solutions in reshaping agrifood systems and driving climate action.

Issues addressed

Unequal impact of the AgriFood Tech revolution: Despite the rapid advancements in AgriFood Tech across Latin America and the Caribbean, small-scale producers often struggle to access its benefits. The event will address this issue and examine ways to bridge the gap between technology and small-scale producers.

Challenges faced by AgTech entrepreneurs serving smallholders: One of the roadblocks to serving the rural poor is the lack of viable business models. The main gaps the faces an entrepreneur from the territories will be exposed.

Ensuring AgTech for all: The proposal will explore alternative business and scaling models with the potential to deliver AgTech independent of the scale of production.

By addressing these issues, the event aims to foster discussions and generate insights on how to empower rural communities, enable access to technology, and promote inclusive and innovative entrepreneurship in the region.

Key message(s) of the Event

Need for innovative business and scaling models for AgTech: Small-scale producers face big challenges to access the benefits of AgriFood Tech. The event will show evidence-based studies and cases that sustain this problem.

The promise of Next-Gen Cooperative business and ownership models: The event explores the virtues of next generation cooperative entrepreneurship in fostering inclusive growth in rural areas. It showcases how cooperative models can facilitate knowledge-sharing, collaboration, and collective decision-making, enabling young entrepreneurs to succeed in the agri-tech sector.

The potential to reverse rural “Brain Drain” to enable community-owned change: Rural youth play a crucial role in driving innovative rural entrepreneurship and addressing the challenges of the agrifood sector. In particular, the event will highlight the potential of rural youth who emigrate to the cities seeking tertiary agrifood education granted opportunities to return as agrifood entrepreneurs.

A call for rural changemakers: Invitation to apply to the AgTech Academy as a platform for entrepreneurial capacity building, skill development, and networking, enabling participants to become agents of change in the agricultural sector by leveraging technology, innovation, and cooperative principles.

Expected Outcomes

Promoting constructive debate: The event will encourage participants to engage in meaningful discussions about how innovative rural entrepreneurship can transform agrifood systems and promote climate action. The aim is to generate valuable insights and ideas that can contribute to sustainable development in the agricultural sector in the region.

Understanding of entrepreneurship through the cooperative model: The event will highlight the cooperative model as a viable option for agricultural entrepreneurship. Participants will gain a better understanding of how cooperatives can foster collaboration, shared resources, and mutual support among rural entrepreneurs, leading to sustainable and inclusive development.

Call for applications: The event will serve as a call for applications for the 2023 AgTech Academy cohort. It will provide information about the academy, its objectives, and the application process. By announcing the call for applications, the event aims to attract and engage potential participants who are interested in pursuing entrepreneurial opportunities in the agricultural sector.

Set the scene and inspire audience participation: The event will set the scene for the upcoming Science and Innovation Forum that will take place in Rome and virtually from October 16-20, 2023.

Event format

The format of the event will be a one-hour webinar, consisting of the following components:

Welcoming remarks: The Assistant Director-General (ADG) will deliver opening remarks to welcome the participants.

Keynote speech: Ideally, the Chief Scientist will deliver a keynote speech, providing valuable insights and setting the tone for the event.

Moderated discussion panel through Q&A session: A diverse, young, and interdisciplinary panel will engage in a moderated discussion. The panelists will share their perspectives and experiences related to entrepreneurship, innovation, and technology in agriculture. The audience will have the opportunity to ask questions to the panelists and receive their insights.

The event will conclude with a call to apply to the AgTech Coop Academy.

The event will be conducted in Spanish, with simultaneous translation provided in English to ensure accessibility for all attendees.

Register to the event Here

Main Event: FAO Science and Innovation Forum 2023