Today, fewer young Serbians are willing to stay on their family farms and make a living in agriculture. The agriculture sector usually implies low productivity and relatively low-paying jobs and does not represent a highly desired career path among youth. Consequently, enrollment has been declining at most of the country’s farming schools.

However, engaging youth in agriculture, which is a critical sector for development, is key to ensuring strong food systems and future food security. To motivate young farmers to modernize their holdings and find ways of making farming more profitable, the Big Small Businesses Project created the Youth Rural Business Fund in partnership with local authorities from Požega, Užice, Čajetina and Gornji Milanovac as well as the Divac Foundation.

Launched in November 2022, the Youth Rural Business Fund aims to help senior students of the Ljubo Mićić Secondary Farming School in Požega enhance their farms and make them more marketable.

Presentation of the Youth Rural Business Fund to interested municipalities

Students will receive grants through a competitive business planning process after completing a mentoring program to recognize the potential of their farms and grow their production businesses. The aspiring farmers will learn how to develop business plans and apply for grants to help them purchase much-needed agricultural machinery.

A key aspect in training future farmers is educating them on what finance is available and motivating them to enhance their holdings. The fund will help ease their access to capital and, in turn, help them improve their production methods, launch their first entrepreneurial endeavors, develop market-ready products, and stay on their farms.

As a five-year activity, the Big Small Businesses Project aims to enable small- and medium-sized enterprises, such as those operated by the students, to integrate into higher value-added value chains and become part of more inclusive, sustainable markets. The fund, which is currently worth USD 26,000, may grow as more districts are expected to join. The project and its partners may also establish a second fund, as local governments recognize the importance of supporting young people to grow their businesses and contribute to the overall local economy.

Learn more about the Big Small Businesses Project.

Learn more about our work in Serbia.