Updated May 11, 2020

Sarah Lahaye

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Financing and Services for Smallholder Farmers

One Acre Fund is a social enterprise that supplies financing and training to help smallholders grow their way out of hunger and build lasting pathways to prosperity. We offer a complete bundle of services, using a market-based model that helps our organization remain financially sustainable and expand to reach more and more farmers every year.

Here’s how our model works:

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One Acre Fund is a social enterprise that supplies financing and training to help smallholders grow their way out of hunger and build lasting pathways to prosperity. We offer a complete bundle of services, using a market-based model that helps our organization remain financially sustainable and expand to reach more and more farmers every year.

Here’s how our model works:

Asset-Based Loans. Farmers receive high-quality seeds and fertilizer on credit, and we offer a flexible repayment system that allows them to pay back their loans in any amount throughout the loan term.

Delivery. We deliver inputs to locations within walking distance of every farmer we serve.

Training. Farmers receive training throughout the season on modern agricultural techniques.

Market Facilitation. We offer crop storage solutions and teach farmers about market fluctuations, so that they can time crop sales to maximize profits.

Every link in this chain is important. If one is missing, then the others won’t have as much impact. One Acre Fund provides all of these services together, enabling farmers to significantly increase their incomes and build paths to prosperity.

COVID-19 Response: Defending Health & Food Security

One Acre Fund is mobilizing our massive rural infrastructure to address the multiple layers of the COVID-19 crisis — focusing in particular on health, hunger, and financial strain. For health, we are immediately rolling out trainings for our staff and clients to reduce disease transmission. For hunger, we are accelerating digitization of our core model to ensure continued support of farm productivity while respecting social distancing norms. For financial strain, we are exploring mechanisms to forgive farmer loans, or provide flexible deferment.

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MLC Vanguard
  

Stage 5: Scaling

Founded in 2006, One Acre Fund models a new solution for Africa’s smallholder farmers. Through a complete bundle of services, we enable farmers to significantly increase their crop yields and build permanent pathways to prosperity. We are rapidly scaling the reach of our solution: in 2019 we directly served 1,10,000 farmers across Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Malawi, Uganda, and Zambia, and are on track to serve 1.2 million clients in the coming year.

Note: COVID-19 is a growing presence in all of One Acre Fund’s countries of operation. Learn about our response in the “Innovation Description” section below.

Focus Areas:

Agriculture, Social & Micro Finance, Climate Change and Resilience and 1 MoreSEE ALL

Agriculture, Social & Micro Finance, Climate Change and Resilience and Evidence & ImpactSEE LESS

Implemented In:

Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and 4 MoreSEE ALL

Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Burundi, Malawi, Uganda and ZambiaSEE LESS

7
Countries Implemented In
1,010,000
Customers
8,200
Employees
Verified Funding
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Problem

An astounding seventy percent of the world’s population living in poverty depend on one profession for their livelihood: farming. Yet most of these farmers live in remote areas, and do not have access to basic agricultural tools and training. As a result, they struggle to grow enough to even feed their families, and face an annual “hunger season” of meal-skipping and substitution.

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Solution

Founded in 2006, One Acre Fund has developed a solution that interrupts this oppressive cycle. Our powerful innovation enables clients to increase their income on supported activities by a historical average of 50%+. This boost enables our clients to alleviate hunger and extreme poverty and unlock their full potential — as farmers and as providers for their families.

Target Beneficiaries

Our typical client is a female farmer with five children, farming between one and three acres of land. She relies on agriculture for her family's livelihood, but lives in a remote area and lacks access to basic agricultural tools, training, and credit. As a result, she struggles to grow enough to feed her family and faces seasonal cycles of low yields and desperate poverty.

Mission and Vision

We serve smallholder farmers. In everything we do, we place the Farmer First. We measure success in our ability to make more farmers more prosperous. We envision a future in which every farm family has the knowledge and means to achieve big harvests, support healthy families, and cultivate rich soil.

Competitive Advantage

Subsistence-Farmer Focus. While the vast majority of agriculture NGOs focus on cash-crop farmers already connected to markets, we have a laser-focus on the hardest-to-serve, most disconnected rural populations: subsistence farmers who largely grow for their own consumption.

Scalability. Over 13 years, we have grown from 40 farm families in Kenya to 1,010,000 across 7 countries in Africa, with a realistic plan to reach nearly 2 million families (with ~7.5 million children) by 2023. Our footprint allows us to rapidly disseminate innovations over a huge base of Africa’s poorest, ensuring what works in Kenya or Rwanda can generate continent-wide impact.

Market-Based Model. We are a non-profit, yet we operate like a business. Clients pay for the products we provide (with loan repayment rates regularly above 97% and covering ~70% of our field costs), while donors subsidize services such as training that maximize the productivity of these products (covering the remaining 30% of our field costs).

Planned Goals and Milestones

We are implementing the following interventions to slow the spread of COVID-19 among our rural communities while ensuring sustained agricultural production for our one million client families. In particular:

Health: Delivering behavioral norm-setting trainings to all rural staff; COVID-19 health trainings to rural households; establishing rural handwashing stations; and mass distributions of soap.

Food security: Rapidly digitization of our core model to ensure uninterrupted farm productivity, including direct farmer digital services; new mobile money agents to expand digital lending services; and in-person engagement by field officers and group leaders using social distancing norms.

Financial strain: We are exploring mechanisms to forgive farmer loans, or provide flexible deferment; also exploring impactful insurance products to protect farm income during this volatile season.

Funding Goal17,000,000
Projected Cumulative Lives Impacted7,350,000
New Implemented CountriesBurundi, Malawi, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, Tanzania
New FeatureMass-scale health trainings, soap distribution, digitizing our operations to enable uninterrupted farm productivity (see above)

Milestone

May 2020
Recognition ReceivedVERIFIED
Mar 2019
Funds RaisedVERIFIED
$2,879,015
TITLECatalysing scale of innovative One Acre Fund model
TYPEGrant
FOCUS AREAS
Agriculture
Implemented InBurundi
Jan 2007
New Country Implemented In
Rwanda
Jan 2006
New Country Implemented In
Kenya
Jan 2006
Created