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Inaugural Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge Launched

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The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) together with Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business Global Social Enterprise Initiative (GSEI) and the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative’s StartupHoyas today announced the Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge. The first-of-its-kind challenge provides an opportunity for individuals to showcase ideas and business innovations being cultivated in rural regions of the United States. The Farm Bureau Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge is a key component of the Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative, a joint effort between AFBF and Georgetown McDonough.

The inaugural challenge is accepting applications through September 15, 2014. Ten semi-finalists will be announced at the National Summit on Rural Entrepreneurship at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business on Tuesday, October 14. The summit is sponsored jointly by AFBF, GSEI, and the White House Rural Council.

“Through the challenge, we will identify rural entrepreneurs with innovative ideas and help them remove any barriers standing between them and a viable, emerging business,” said Lisa Benson, AFBF’s director of rural development. “Winners will get initial capital, as well as mentoring to take them from innovative concept, to strategy, to reality. Farm Bureau recognizes that great business ideas can germinate anywhere, and we’re excited to see what our members will bring to the table.”

Challenge finalists will pitch their business ideas to a team of judges at the AFBF 96th Annual Convention, to be held in January in San Diego, Calif. Participants, who must be based in a rural county, will compete for the Rural Entrepreneur of the Year Award and prize money of up to $30,000 to implement their ideas. To learn more about the challenge and submit an online application, visit

“Rural entrepreneurs face unique challenges and more limited options when exploring new business ideas. But just as in Silicon Valley, great ideas combined with the proper support and funding can be transformational,” said Jeff Reid, founding director, Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative’s StartupHoyas.

“Bolstering economic growth through entrepreneurship strengthens not only rural America, but all of America,” said Ladan Manteghi, executive director of the Global Social Enterprise Initiative. “Our partnership with Farm Bureau combines complementary assets to bring educational tools, business expertise, incentives such as the challenge, and mentorship to rev up new business concepts and rural economies.”