RuralWorks Partners Wins Stage One of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 2024 Growth Accelerator Fund Competition

RuralWorks Partners was awarded $50,000 in prize money for equitable access to entrepreneurship

WASHINGTON– On April 23, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced RuralWorks Partners as a Stage One winner for the 2024 Growth Accelerator Fund Competition (GAFC). RuralWorks Partners will receive a $50,000 cash prize for its impactful and inclusive approach to nurturing a collaborative national innovation ecosystem to advance small business research and development (R&D) from ideas to the market. 

By fostering connections between entrepreneurs, mentors, partners, philanthropies, corporations, investors, and other shared resources, GAFC 2024 catalyzes strategic ecosystem partnerships to build community and organizational capacity for the successful launch, growth, and scale of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)-based entrepreneurs.

RuralWorks Partners’ award-winning model supports rural entrepreneurs innovating climate-smart agriculture and other technology solutions that bring quality jobs and environmental benefits for their community and the planet.

Melissa Obegi, Board Chair of RuralWorks Partners, commented that “Rural America has a long history of entrepreneurship but needs access to capital and other resources to support growth.  As a prize recipient, RuralWorks will foster collaboration that brings the knowledge, networks and capital necessary to scale innovative rural businesses.”

Two Stages

SBA welcomed Stage One submissions from a broad range of organizations with a collaborative vision to nurture a national ecosystem for equitable access to entrepreneurship. Winners of Stage One were selected through a multi-tier review panel process with experts in entrepreneurship, business, innovation, and strategic planning both inside and out of the federal government.

RuralWorks Partners will be working towards Stage Two of the competition, which offers an additional $50,000 to $150,000 in cash prizes for Growth Accelerator Partnerships. To learn more about Stage Two opportunities and to access the Growth Accelerator Fund Competition Guidelines, please visit

About RuralWorks: RuralWorks Partners is an impact investment firm that delivers much needed growth capital to rural businesses that are doing their part to protect our planet and generate community wealth and economic resilience. By investing in ready-to-scale rural businesses that create quality jobs and protect the environment, either by demonstrating a commitment to environmentally sustainable business practices or by providing solutions that address climate change or other environmental challenges, RuralWorks can deliver meaningful impact to both underserved rural communities and the environment. RuralWorks was created by Community Reinvestment Fund, USA (CRF) and Conduit Capital, US. Learn more about RuralWorks at