Putting small-scale farmers first: Updates from One Acre Fund
One Acre Fund recently contributed a Note From the Field on Microlinks (our KDID partner site), and the Agrilinks Team wanted to share some updates on the organization's work with small-scale farmers. One Acre Fund is an agriculture organization that helps East African farmers to grow their own way out of hunger.
PBS Newshour: Nonprofit's Business Approach to Helping Small Farmers
The PBS Newshour recently aired a segment about One Acre Fund’s field operations in Kenya and Rwanda. From PBS Newshour:
Most international aid agencies are headquartered in major cities: New York, Geneva or Nairobi. But One Acre Fund chose a rural location in the Kenyan town of Bungoma, and founder Andrew Youn is convinced this is a significant factor in the extraordinary growth they've enjoyed -- 5,000 farm families in 2006; 125,000 in 2012.
Youn says living here is the best way to learn about how life unfolds -- day in and day out -- for impoverished smallholder farmers, people his organization treats as customers, not beneficiaries. Any business thrives when it can listen and truly understand the lives of its customers in order to better serve them.
Although it's a nonprofit driven by compassion, One Acre Fund is clinically business-like in approach. It offers farmers a package of goods and services offered more commonly to industrial-scale farmers like those in the West: credit, good-quality seeds and fertilizer (along with instructions on how to use them) and insurance. In exchange, customers are expected to pay back their loan obligations by harvest time.
One Acre Fund reaches 100,000th farmer
From the One Acre Fund Blog:
When One Acre Fund started in 2006, we had an ambitious goal to reach 25,000 farm families by 2012. This year, we have grown to serve 5 times as many farmers—125,000 farm families! Reaching our 100,000th farmer is a tremendous accomplishment. It shows the value of dreaming big, and the high demand for our services among farmers.
To celebrate, this month we want to introduce you to Salima Auma, our 100,000th client. Salima lives in Kakamega District, Kenya, with her husband and their eight children. She is a farmer, and her husband is a mason and a farmer. She is a member of the Maputo Group, which means “good return” in Swahili.
She had not heard of One Acre Fund before the 2011 harvest, but after that, she decided to join.
“I witnessed my neighbors who joined One Acre Fund getting good harvests, and I heard from others that the harvest was good,” Salima said.