Smallholder farmers make up 75% of Africa’s poor. The vast majority live in remote areas of the continent, and are isolated from basic agricultural tools and trainings. As a result, they struggle to grow enough to feed their families, and face an annual “hunger season” of meal-skipping and substitution. In rural East Africa, 10% of children die before the age of one, with more than half of deaths related to hunger and malnutrition. Year after year, these farm families are trapped in a cycle of poor yields and dire poverty.
Founded in 2006, One Acre Fund has designed and proven a solution that interrupts this downward course. They provide farmers with a complete “market bundle,” including: 1) agricultural technologies (improved seed and fertilizer), 2) financing, 3) in-field training on modern, environmentally-sustainable farming techniques, and 4) post-harvest and market support. Together, this innovative combination of services enables farmers to roughly double their farm income. Importantly, they invest this new income productively: in school fees for their children, in productive assets such as livestock, and in improved housing for their families.
Since inception, One Acre has rapidly scaled their reach. One Acre Fund has grown from a promising start-up to a major international organization spanning four countries. The organization now serves over 400,000 farm families across Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, and Tanzania, and employ more than 4,000 full-time field staff. And they are poised to continue growing quickly. By 2020, they expect to serve 1 million farm families (with roughly 3.5 million children in these families) across sub-Saharan Africa.
In 2014, The World We Want Foundation joined forces with the Postcode Lottery Foundation (Svenska PostkodStiftelsen) to launch operations in Tanzania. Over 80% of Tanzania’s poor people depend on smallholder agriculture for their livelihood; this presents an incredible opportunity – to have nationwide impact on hunger and poverty through more productive farming. By 2015, One Acre Fund extended their innovative “market bundle,” to over 9,000 Tanzania farm families, providing each family with the tools, training, and support to roughly double their farm productivity and begin a lasting journey out of hunger and poverty. Together with the Jochnick Foundation, we were able to to take this number to over 25,000 in 2016.
In addition to our core bundle, One Acre Fund is committed to identifying and scaling out additional technologies that have meaningful impact on smallholder farmers. One such product is solar lights – a breakthrough clean-energy technology that delivers dramatic economic, environmental, and educational results to rural farm families. Through this project, the organization is working to achieve 30% adoption across our Tanzania network.