Did you know that small businesses are especially vital in rural areas, creating about two-thirds of rural jobs? Often, this helps build rural communities as more people get their business ideas off the ground.

AFBF’s Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge is helping communities around the nation by providing individuals an opportunity to showcase their ideas and innovations while competing for a total of $145,000 in startup funding. Along the way, participants get advice from business experts serving as mentors and judges. They learn how to pitch their ideas, write business plans, approach investors and market themselves.

Now in its third year, the application period for the current challenge is open through June 30. Competitors may submit for-profit business ideas related to food and agriculture online here. All applications must include a business plan, video pitch and photo.

Focus on Ag column