One Acre Fund
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One Acre Fund

One Acre Fund helps smallholder African farmers boost productivity by delivering a bundle of services directly to their doorsteps, including start-up financing, high-quality farming inputs, agricultural training, and market facilitation to help maximize profits. These tools help farmers increase their yield per acre, sales, and household income.

Donate to One Acre Fund

Launched
2006
Active in
7
countries
800K
farm families served in 2018
Projected
1.25M
farm families served in 2020
50%
average seasonal increase in client income

The problem: subsistence-level farming with shockingly low yields

Agriculture is the dominant profession of the world’s poor: 80% of Africa’s poor are rural farm families, trapped in a state of subsistence-level farming. They face shockingly low yields, but lack the resources, training, or funds necessary to increase their farm’s productivity. [1]

In East Africa’s remote farming villages, basic technologies like seed and fertilizer are often unavailable — if they are available, farm families often cannot access the start-up capital necessary to purchase them. Smallholders also struggle to optimize their farming output without proper training on agricultural best practices. Finally, post-harvest challenges like inadequate storage, pest infestations, spoilage, and market fluctuations can prevent farmers from translating yields into profits.

80% of Africa’s poor are rural farm families trapped in a state of subsistence-level farming.
Woman harvesting roots

The solution: holistically addressing the barriers to smallholder productivity

Traditional agricultural assistance programs often provide support in just one area — for example, offering a small start-up loan or subsidizing fertilizer. But distributing high-quality farm inputs yields little benefit if farmers cannot afford them or do not know how to properly use them. To truly improve farmers’ livelihoods, an organization must address all of these barriers simultaneously.

How One Acre Fund works

One Acre Fund’s model is designed to address all of the barriers to smallholder productivity. They deliver thousands of tons of high-quality farm inputs to within walking distance of every customer at the start of each planting season — and extend those inputs on credit at a quarter the size of the average microfinance loan. Throughout the season, One Acre Fund field staff deliver in-field training on best farming practices. And at harvest time, they provide farmers with the tools and knowledge to safely store their harvest and sell during the off-season for significant profit.

One Acre Fund’s success lies in coupling productive resources with comprehensive trainings and last-mile delivery, providing a complete value chain. On average, this model boosts clients’ incomes on supported activities by at least 50% within a single growing season. Furthermore, when farmers improve their harvests, they produce more food for their families and communities. By 2020, One Acre Fund estimates that participating farmers will produce enough surplus crops to feed themselves and an additional 5 million of their neighbors.

By 2020, One Acre Fund estimates that participating farmers will produce enough surplus crops to feed themselves and an additional 5 million of their neighbors.

One Acre Fund also engages African governments, microfinance organizations, and other key agriculture actors in dialogue to shape policy decisions that strengthen agricultural ecosystems, more effectively provide rural finance, and communicate information to the greater public.

What makes One Acre Fund so effective


Cost-effectiveness

In 2018, farmers repaid 97% of their average US$71 loans, which covered over 70% of One Acre Funds’ program costs. This means each farmer only requires an average $32.72 in donations to close the gap between field revenues and expenses.

Impact

From 2016–18, One Acre Fund farmers saw an average increase of 50% in farm income, or about US$120 in incremental profit each year. They also experienced significant reductions in rates of household hunger. [2]

Rapid growth

In 2018, One Acre Fund served 800,000 farm families across seven East African countries. By 2020, that number is expected to increase to 1.25 million. 

Financial sustainability

One Acre Fund’s scalable model enables the cost to serve to decrease over time as the program becomes more efficient and generates economies of scale. 

Continuous innovation

One Acre Fund has conducted hundreds of rigorous trials on both agricultural and non-agricultural interventions ranging from crop diversity and tree seedling distribution to solar lights and health insurance. [3]

Local infrastructure

In 2018, 78% of One Acre’s higher-skilled Africa-based roles were filled by African nationals — including the CEO. By the end of 2020, One Acre Fund will recruit, manage, and deliver professional development services to over 10,000 African national employees.

Environmental conservation

One Acre Fund’s core agricultural work seeks to boost climate resilience for smallholder families via crop insurance, improved soil health, crop diversification, optimized seed choice, modern agricultural training, and agroforestry. 

One Acre Fund’s accountability

One Acre Fund has been validated through rigorous due diligence and funding from many of the sector’s leading donors. This includes the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Global Innovation Fund, Skoll Foundation, and Big Bang Philanthropy — a consortium of individuals and foundations committed to funding the best solutions to extreme poverty. [4]

In addition, One Acre Fund is committed to a robust set of internal controls. This includes financial tracking systems to monitor expenditures, fraud reporting trainings for all staff, and a rigorous schedule of internal and external audits. They publicly detail their long-term impact, methodology, and results from randomized trials, and publish annual performance and financial reports. [5] [6] [7] [8]

Recognition for One Acre Fund

In 2015, The Global Journal ranked One Acre Fund #15 on its list of the world’s Top 500 NGOs, and in 2016, One Acre Fund received the World Food Prize Norman Borlaug Award for Field Research. A 2016 TED talk by One Acre Fund’s CEO has received over 1.25 million views. [9]

Frequently Asked Questions

How will my donation to One Acre Fund be used?

Donations to One Acre Fund are used to fill the US$32.72 gap between a farmer’s loan repayment and the total cost of serving them. This co-funding model allows for a high degree of social return on investment: in 2020, each outside $1 into One Acre’s core program is expected to generate at least $5 in farmer impact.

In addition, your funding supports One Acre Funds’ efforts to advocate on smallholders’ behalf through national policy and capacity building. It also enables them to research, test, and implement new products that further improve farmers’ quality of life. Donor support has led to the roll-out of interventions like mass-scale tree planting, nutritious crops, reusable menstrual pads, and solar lights.

Why does One Acre Fund support farmers in Africa rather than other parts of the world?

Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rates of hunger and malnutrition of any place on earth. According to the United Nations’ World Food Programme, nearly one in four people living in the region go to bed hungry each night, including millions of children who must attend school every day without enough food to help them reach their full educational potential. [10]

More than 70 percent of people living in East Africa rely on farming as their primary means of supporting themselves and their families. Providing farmers with the tools and resources to succeed reduces hunger for local families, while also creating new economic opportunities for those living in subsistence agricultural communities.

How does One Acre Fund deal with and prevent corruption before investing in new communities?

One Acre Fund invests in a dedicated Government Relations team in each country of operation, with full-time staff responsible for building and managing relationships with government partners at every level. Before entering a new area, One Acre Fund proactively establishes contact with a wide variety of political partners, including agricultural ministers, tribal chiefs, revenue and labor authorities, and the local police force. By creating productive working relationships before launching operations, they are able to avoid corruption while strictly complying with all local and international regulations.

In addition, One Acre Fund maintains a robust financial tracking system to monitor expenditures, provides fraud reporting trainings for all staff, and is committed to a rigorous schedule of internal and external audits. Their field programs are converting to mobile phone-based transaction systems, which reduce the possibility of fraud and corruption by eliminating the need for cash. One Acre programs in Kenya, Rwanda, and Malawi (collectively serving 760,000+ clients) have already fully transitioned.

Do farmers have input into One Acre Fund’s programs?

One Acre Fund prioritizes farmer feedback to continually improve the One Acre Fund program. Farmers comprise 90% of field staff, are paying clients, and also serve as co-innovators by testing new products. One example of farmer feedback in action: One Acre Fund is beginning to explore cash crop support options (e.g. coffee and yams) in response to farmer demand.

How does One Acre Fund calculate its impact on farmers’ profits?

While many agriculture NGOs rely on farmer self-reporting, and measuring yield/income growth relative to the prior season, One Acre Fund physically weighs the harvests of 1,000-6,000 clients and neighboring non-clients each season. This ensures that One Acre Fund’s reported impact on bottom-line farm profit represents the isolated value-add of its program, and not the effects of weather or other variables.

Because One Acre Fund is unable to capture reliable profit data from economic activities outside their program, they measure profit impact only on supported activities. Supported activities include farming of crops supported by One Acre Fund (subsistence crops like maize, beans, millet, and certain vegetables) as well as non-farm “add-on” products.

Does One Acre Fund support other programs in addition to its work on sustainable farming?

Yes, One Acre Fund offers their clients a number of non-agricultural “quality of life” products. This includes reusable sanitary pads (in partnership with AFRIpads), solar lamps, energy-efficient cookstoves, iron roofing sheets, poultry vaccines, health insurance, and more. [11]

Why does The Life You Can Save recommend One Acre Fund?

One Acre Fund was nominated to us by the Mulago Foundation and Focusing Philanthropy, two highly regarded foundations that we view as mission- and value-aligned. We solicited input from various other experts we trust in the field and spoke with One Acre Fund leadership before adding them to our list of best charities.

Is my donation tax-deductible?