Increases agricultural output, and therefore income, for a rapidly-growing number of the poorest East African farm families.
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DILIGENCE TRIP REPORTS:
An estimated three-quarters of all the world's poor live in rural areas on family farms of one acre or less. Most such poor families face months of hunger each year after consuming the crops they grow before the next harvest season. Ten percent of the children of these rural poor do not survive to age 1 and half of those who do are physically stunted from malnutrition by international standards.
One Acre Fund provides a bundle of services to farmers of one acre or less in Kenya, Rwanda, and Burundi, including:
- Seeds (provided at market rates)
- Fertilizer (micro-dosed to the seed hole fodr maximum uptake)
- Weekly education on farming techniques
- Crop storage strategies and equipment
- Voluntary pooled marketing facilitation
One Acre Fund relates to groups with 8-30 members, sometimes working with pre-existing groups, on other occasions facilitating the creation of new groups. One Acre Fund provides the seeds and fertilizer as a loan (valued at ~$75) to each farm family in the group with repayment required from farm profits following the subsequent harvest. Groups collaborate, and make mutual support pledges, regarding planting, learning, harvesting and loan repayment. Repayment rates are very high -- with 98% repaying on time.
With a strong emphasis on hands-on, local support and interaction, One Acre Fund employs local people (many of whom began as farmers in the program) to relate to participating farm families and their groups. These staff provide technical assistance, distribute seed and fertilizer, collect loan payments, facilitate market activities, and gather impact data.
One Acre Fund employs a very structured test in assessing the suitability of its model in new geographies considered for program expansion. Reassuringly, this test has led to decisions to proceed in certain areas and decisions to not proceed in others.
Because it continues to grow rapidly and has aspirations to materially increase its direct impact and to influence change and model adoption beyond its direct reach, One Acre Fund is investing heavily in strengthening its infrastructure, recruiting and training key personnel at several organizational levels, and collecting and assessing impact data.
Focusing Philanthropy is a key funding partner for One Acre Fund in its efforts to expand into new countries. Establishing One Acre Fund programs in a new country can cost between $350,000 to $500,000+, and the funding has historically been very difficult to secure from One Acre Fund's traditional donors. Focusing Philanthropy is interested in helping One Acre Fund develop new country programs given the extremely high expected impact over time as programs achieve scale in each country. Because One Acre Fund has historically had much success securing reliable funding for in-place programs, Focusing Philanthropy has agreed to become the lead supporter in developing and proving new markets so that traditional funders have more grant-making options
While growing rapidly each year since its founding in 2006, One Acre Fund has been able to maintain or improve on its key performance metrics:
- 3x harvest yield per acre vs. prior performance
- 2x farm income after payment of program costs
- 98% cash repayment rate of loans of seed & fertilizer
- $80 per farm field cost
In 2006, One Acre Fund began by serving 38 farm families in one region of western Kenya. By year end 2016 it was serving over 450,000 families. Through aggressive expansion into new countries in coming years, One Acre Fund hopes to be serving over 5 million families by 2030.
With a goal of achieving financial break-even on field costs (but not overheads and investments in future growth), One Acre Fund was at 75% self sustainability in 2016.
With respect to new country activity of which Focusing Philanthropy has been the lead funding partner, One Acre Fund achieved the following results in 2016:
- Tanzania: Grew from 9150 farmers in 2014 to 17,400 farmers in 2015, and 24,000 in 2016. 2017 target is 35,000 farmers.
- Malawi: Experienced challenges due to storms and flooding that destroyed crops and washed away much fertilizer. Still enrolled 949 farmers in pilot program and 2673 farmers by the end of 2016. Target for 2017 is 7200 farmers. 100% farmer repayment rate.
- Uganda: Experienced challenges in 2015 due to Striga parasitic weed that stunts growth of the most popular crops, including maize. Enrolled 1043 farmers in 2015 and 3769 in 2016. Target for 2017 is 7400 farmers. Focusing on finding more resistant crops for Striga affected farmers (legumes, etc.) in addition to deploying various Striga management techniques. 99% repayment rate and 80% re-enrollment rate.
- Zambia: Completed first full season in 2016 with 429 farmers enrolled. Target for 2017 is 1749 farmers. Farmer repayment rate exceeds 99%.
Use of Funds
One Acre Fund seeks to raise $36 million during 2017 to expand its direct programmatic reach and to effect broader impact through interaction with other organizations (governmental and non-governmental) active in addressing rural poverty.
$120 will fund the addition of a farm family to the One Acre Fund program (direct field costs and program infrastructure/overhead), enabling them to double their farm income per acre.
$2,000 hires a field officer to provide education to 250 farm families for a year.
$10,000 will enable an entire village of about 40 families and about 200 people to double their farm income per acre.
$50,000 hires a new "country scout" to pilot one or more new countries as candidates for One Acre Fund expansion. One Acre Fund has two country scouts today but can productively deploy three more. It seeks to be assessing five new countries a year, leading to one new country program launch annually.
$100,000 launches a new district of operations with about 10,000 farm families suitable for the One Acre Fund program. Based on the historical track record, within four years, the district is expected to be financially break-even regarding all field costs, no longer needing this annual support, and about 10,000 participating farmers will have achieved a sustainable doubling of their farm income per acre, benefiting their 50,000 family members.
Path to Credibility
Recipient of a Skoll Foundation Award for Social Entrepreneurship
Recipient of a Mulago Foundation grant
Included in the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation venture philanthropy portfolio
Awarded the Sustainable Finance Award by the Financial Times in 2011, the only organization other than a bank to receive this award
Included in the Forbes Magazine 2011 "Impact 30" top social entrepreneurial organizations in the world.
Recognized in 2012 and 2013 by the Global Journal as a Top 100 NGO. One Acre Fund was ranked 18th in 2013, up from 60th in 2012.
Founder Andrew Yuon was named by the Schwab Foundation as one of 24 Social Entrepreneurs of the Year in 2013.
A Focusing Philanthropy team member met with Andrew Yuon and One Acre Fund Board Chair Matt Forti in Oxford, England in Spring 2013 to review overall One Acre Fund operations and to discuss the planned country roll-out to Tanzania which follows an exploratory phase funded by Focusing Philanthropy.
The Focusing Philanthropy team conducts regular telephonic program and organizational reviews of One Acre Fund, as well as engaging in periodic face to face meetings with their U.S. staff and Board members.
The Founders of Focusing Philanthropy donate to One Acre Fund personally.
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