Enrollment Opens for Food Entrepreneur Training Program
HVADC Accelerator program participants during field visit
Hudson Valley AgriBusiness Development Corporation (HVADC) is now accepting applications for its second annual Farm and Food Funding Accelerator (FFFA), an intensive training program designed to help food enterprise owners develop the skills and materials to build their businesses and secure financial resources. The six-to-eight-month curriculum will begin in November.
For local food entrepreneurs on the verge of scaling their businesses, one impediment to growth can be the access to capital, says Mary Ann Johnson, deputy director of HVADC, which launched the program in 2016 to address this challenge. The nine participants in that first class surpassed all goals in terms of increased sales, job creation and new market opportunities, she says, and HVADC is seeking similarly motivated food entrepreneurs to apply for this year’s program.
FFFA participants will engage in expert instruction, one-on-one counseling and technical assistance, group interaction and industry networking events to learn how to build their sales in anticipation of speaking with investors and discover new market prospects. The program will culminate in spring 2019, when participants will have a chance to pitch to potential funders.
“The FFFA curriculum is basically a fast-track program for those who need additional business, financial planning, management, marketing and capacity-building training … and, most important, an opportunity to access sources of capital,” Johnson says. “It is a wonderful opportunity for Hudson Valley farmers and food entrepreneurs who have ideas about how they would like to scale up their business, such as launching a new product, introducing a new crop, seasonally expanding production or finding new distribution channels. We found through the first class that networking with other FFFA peers in the class produced creative collaborations for sales opportunities, new product development and references.”
Participants will be able to connect with the growing network of funders that support local food systems through methods such as equity, loans, grants and crowdfunding, as well as the Hudson Valley AgriBusiness Loan Fund. Training sessions will be conducted by HVADC, its industry partners, industry professionals, and institutional and retail stakeholders in the Hudson Valley food system. Peers from the 2016 FFFA class will participate as mentors and counselors. Sylke Chesterfield, a business consultant and certified coach of Chesterfield Advantage, is the FFFA project manager.