RuralInvest: Fostering Access to Finance for Small-scale Entrepreneurs

The toolkit for development partners

RuralInvest in projects

Most approaches to investment preparation are either designed for multimillion-dollar projects or focus on one specific area. Often, there is no generalized support tool suitable for use by national staff working with individuals or groups to prepare small-and medium-scale rural investment projects.

RuralInvest provides training to national field technicians that will result in high-quality, harmonized business plans that provide most of the information generally requested by financial institutions and development partners.

Benefits of applying RuralInvest in a development project:

  • The participatory approach and feedback loops ensure that the entrepreneurs drive the process and take ownership and responsibility for the projects.
  • The training is tailored for each context and develops national capacities, including national trainer pools that can support the RuralInvest users in the Project.
  • It is composed of a two-level analysis to pre-select the proposals before developing a detailed business plan.
  • It produces harmonized and visually appealing reports that make comparisons between business proposals much easier.
  • It is supported by free software that translates participatory data collection into professional-quality business plans while storing the data for monitoring and evaluation. It also provides synchronized off-line and online versions for easier usage and collaboration.
  • It is an excellent communication tool to link field technicians, entrepreneurs, and bank officials. The consistent entrepreneur involvement in the process can support data verification and accuracy in financial decision-making.
  • FAO RuralInvest core team is constantly developing new training materials, tutorials, organizing events and webinars for the community

What types of investments are supported?

RuralInvest is typically used for small-and medium-scale projects in the order of USD 5.000 to USD 500.000, depending on the complexity of the project design. It can be used in a wide range of for-profit activities such as agriculture, livestock, fisheries, fish farming, forestry, agro-industries, tourism, transport services, handicraft manufacturing, retail stores, wholesale services, storage services, etc.

Access to the eLearning courses

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The RuralInvest process in a development project

Implementing RuralInvest in a development project requires some training and capacity development at the local level. Therefore, we encourage partners to address the RuralInvest team at the design phase to provide the best support possible. 

1. Design of RuralInvest support

The RuralInvest team will work with the project coordination team to understand the need and design the activities according to the requirements by planning the capacity development activities to ensure the most effective use of the methodology.

2. Training of national trainers

Ideally, the first round of trainings will be with professionals who will first need to be expert users before becoming national trainers. After ensuring that they master the tools, these first experts will conduct future trainings in the country with the support of the RuralInvest team.

3. Training of field technicians

With the support of the RuralInvest core team, national trainers will undertake the training of new RuralInvest users. They will oversee the exercises and give feedback to the participants.

4. Development of business plans

The RuralInvest users will work with the entrepreneurs to develop the business plans. With the support of the RIV core team, the national trainers will oversee and support this process.

5. Business plans submitted for funding

The final step is submitting the business plan by the entrepreneur to the relevant institutions to access a grant or/and a loan.