We’re excited to announce the addition of One Acre Fund to our 2016 list of best charities. Subsistence agriculture accounts for the largest economic activity in the developing world, and a majority of the global poor rely on small-scale farming to support themselves and their families. This means that helping farmers succeed is one of the best ways to reduce global hunger and bring economic revenue to some of the world’s poorest communities. One Acre Fund empowers farmers to increase their crop harvests and farm profitability, and in the process, helps reduce hunger in remote regions in East Africa. By 2020, One Acre Fund projects that their farmers will help produce a food surplus great enough to feed an additional 5 million of their farmers’ neighbors.
So how does One Acre Fund help farmers maximize their profit, acre for acre? The nonprofit uses a multi-pronged operations model to support local farmers. First, One Acre Fund provides start up capital in the form of asset-based loans, which helps farmers purchase seeds and fertilizer—supplies that are often otherwise unaffordable for family farmers, or too difficult to acquire in remote regions. By providing funding and overseeing distribution, One Acre Fund gives farmers the basic tools and resources to jumpstart their small farming business.
Additionally, One Acre Fund provides ongoing agricultural education and training to provide farmers the most up-to-date information about best farming practices and technology. Without this information, farmers often don’t know how to best maximize their crop output per acre. Finally, One Acre Fund helps facilitate the vital relationships that will turn farmers’ crops into profit. By helping to build relationship between farmers and local traders, One Acre Fund supports local trade while helping farmers boost farm profit—all without maintaining any direct involvement in local economies.
Currently, One Acre Fund runs sustainable farming programs in Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, and Rwanda, and has the capacity to add one new country program per year. Farmers who receive agricultural support from One Acre Fund see an average of 50 to 100 percent increase in farm profits per planted acre. Among participants, the program has a loan repayment rate of more than 97 percent. Last year, One Acre Fund’s farmers generated combined net revenues of more than $7 million for themselves, their families, and communities.
So who benefits from One Acre Fund’s farm programs? Consider the story of Ruth, a farmer and mother of eight living in Western Kenya. Ruth used to make only about $5 a week—the combined income from her corn harvests and a side business of selling fries as a street vendor. Even with the income from two businesses, Ruth barely made enough to feed herself and her children. Since joining One Acre Fund’s farming program, Ruth now makes enough to feed her family for a whole year. She even makes a small surplus—enough to send her oldest son Patrick to school.
One Acre Fund’s sustainable farming program presents a tremendous opportunity for those who want to improve the world through their charitable donation. We hope you’ll take the time to learn more about how One Acre Fund helps small farmers like Ruth feed, support, and educate their families.