One Acre Fund is a non-profit social enterprise that provides financing and training to help smallholder farmers grow their way out of hunger and build lasting pathways to prosperity. After first starting in Kenya in 2006, they have grown to serve over 1 million farmers across seven countries in Eastern and Southern Africa -- Burundi, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Ethiopia -- with offices across all of these countries. Out of their 8,300 staff, 95% of the jobs are based in rural areas, creating significant new opportunities for formal employment. In Kenya, Rwanda and Burundi, they are one of the largest rural employers in the nation. The One Acre Fund uses a market-based model that helps the organization to remain financially sustainable and expand to reach more and more farmers every year. With a blended revenue model, 70% of their field expenses are financed through farmer purchases, with donor dollars covering the rest. They aim to increase the sustainability of their field operations over time, meaning that farmer purchases will fuel most of their future growth, without any additional donor funding.
Using their delivery expertise and trusted community ties, the One Acre Fund procured 2.3 million kilograms of soap and distributed free soap to 1 million farmers in Kenya, Zambia, Malawi, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania. Their goal is to reach more than 3 million households, including those not otherwise clients of One Acre Fund, and they plan to distribute soap in Ethiopia and Nigeria. The One Acre Fund’s field staff are also actively promoting health best practices in rural areas by modeling physical distancing and training farmers on prevention procedures, COVID-19 symptoms, and hotlines to call if they get sick.
Theory of Change
Empowering farmers to improve their harvests and increase productivity allows families in rural areas to lift themselves out of poverty, and helps to eradicate hunger in the community as a whole.
The founders of the One Acre Fund identified that small farms provided a living for more than 50 million families in Africa and produced 80% of the food for the whole continent. Yet, their harvests lagged behind the rest of the world. To help correct this problem, the One Acre Fund delivers high-quality seeds and fertilizer to smallholder farmers on credit, and offers a flexible repayment system that allows them to pay back their loans in any amount throughout the loan term. They deliver these tools to locations within walking distance of every farmer they serve. They also provide training throughout the season on modern agricultural techniques. To help with market facilitation, they offer crop storage solutions and teach farmers about market fluctuations, so that they can time crop sales to maximize profits.
In 2020, the One Acre Fund served more than 1.3 million farmers in seven countries, registering a 33% growth in farmer profits despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Their impact assessments demonstrate that One Acre Fund farmers are gaining an extra $81 USD in profit on average relative to non-participating farmers. Their farmers improved their harvests per acre by 24% on average, with up to 74% improvement in Uganda. Through their measurements of food security, they were also able to demonstrate that program participation reduces food insecurity by up to 24%. Additionally, as part of their long-term campaign to plant 1 billion trees across Sub-Saharan Africa over the next 15 years, the One Acre Fund worked with farmers to plant 24 million trees in 2020.