Increasing agricultural output, and therefore income, for a rapidly-growing number of the poorest African smallholder farm families

Countries Served
Burundi, Kenya,
Malawi, Rwanda,
Tanzania, Uganda,
Zambia

Headquarters
80 Broad Street #2500
New York, NY 10004

Budget
$60,000,000 grant budget

Programs Offered


In its core program, One Acre Fund provides a bundle of agriculture inputs, training services, and non-farm goods to farmers living on one acre or less, including:

• Seeds (provided at market rates on credit)
• Fertilizer (micro-dosed to the seed hole for maximum uptake)
• Weekly education on planting and farming techniques
• Crop-insurance
• Crop storage strategies and equipment
• Marketing consulting and 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.

Historical Results


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 2017, it was serving over 615,000 farm families through its core program, up from 450,000 families in 2016. Through aggressive expansion into new countries in coming years, One Acre Fund hopes to be serving over 900,000 families by year-end 2018, and five 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 69.5% self sustainability in 2017 and expects to improve to 76% in 2018.

With respect to new country activity of which Focusing Philanthropy has been the lead funding partner, One Acre Fund achieved the following results in 2017:

  • Tanzania: Grew from 9150 farmers in 2014 to 40,000 farmers in 2017. 2018 target is 70,000 farmers.
  • Malawi: 100% farmer repayment rate. Experienced challenges in 2016 rollout-year due to storms and flooding that destroyed crops and washed away much fertilizer. Still enrolled 949 farmers in pilot program and 2,673 farmers by the end of 2016. By year end 2017, 7,200 farmers were enrolled. 2018 target is 17,000 farmers.
  • Uganda: Unusually challenging country due to Striga parasitic weed that stunts growth of the most popular crops, including maize. Enrolled 1,043 farmers in 2015 and 31,000 in 2017. Target for 2018 is another 31,000. 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 7,000 farmers. Current emphasis is building more robus repayment and enrollment mechanisms before ramping growth more aggressively. Farmer repayment rate exceeds 99%.

Use Of Funds


One Acre Fund seeks to raise $60 million during 2018 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


  • Has been a Focusing Philanthropy partner since 2014
  • 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.
  • Winner of two USAID grants in 2012
  • 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. At TED2016, he gave a TED Talk titled “Dream.”
  • 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 that follows an exploratory phase funded by Focusing Philanthropy.
  • Winner of The World Food Prize in 2015
  • Featured in The Economist’s 2016 and 2017 Green Evolution article series
  • The Focusing Philanthropy team has conducted two in-country due diligence field visits in Kenya and Uganda, and conducts regular telephonic program and organizational reviews each quarter, as well as engaging in periodic face-to-face meetings with One Acre Fund’s U.S. staff and Board members.
  • The Founders of Focusing Philanthropy donate to One Acre Fund personally.

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