Rural Opportunity Initiative

ROI's Project Director Matt McKenna testifies on Capitol Hill for a hearing on "Investing in Rural America," on July 24, 2018. Photo is of Matt speaking into a microphone.
ROI’s Project Director Matt McKenna testifies on Capitol Hill for a hearing on “Investing in Rural America,” on July 24, 2018.

The Rural Opportunity Initiative (ROI) aims to serve rural American communities by driving financially and socially-sustainable rural development. It has been well-established that rural businesses lag behind their urban counterparts in terms of venture and early growth capital investment, and accessing debt and operating capital. At the same time, private investors are eager to identify and support rural growth opportunities, but most are not aware of what is available, and often the deals are misaligned with traditional investment models. The investor experience in U.S. rural communities in some ways mirrors that of impact investors in search of deals overseas in developing regions, where the amount of capital is more robust than the pipeline of deals, and a mismatch exists between the levels and kinds of returns investors seek, and what small and growing businesses can offer.