Andrew Youn started One Acre Fund (www.oneacrefund.org) in 2006. Youn graduated from Yale University magna cum laude and is a former management consultant. Youn cofounded the program in Kenya with John Gachunga and now lives in western Kenya. While earning his MBA at the Kellogg School of Management, Youn visited western Kenya in August 2005 and interviewed subsistence farmers about their quality of life and the challenges they face in providing for their families. Upon returning to Kellogg in the fall, Youn began designing a business plan to employ a market-based approach to introducing more productive farming techniques to subsistence farmers in East Africa. One Acre Fund launched in February 2006, initially serving thirty-eight farmer families in Bungoma, Kenya.
One Acre Fund is an agriculture nonprofit that provides smallholder farmers in East Africa with the tools they need to achieve food security and increase their incomes. It currently works with 137,000 farm families in Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, and Tanzania serving small-scale farmers. It measures success by its ability to make more farmers more prosperous. One Acre empowers farm households that own approximately one acre of land. These poor families, many headed by women, spend several months of the year in a “hunger season.” Most are growing just a fraction of the food their land could produce.
Within three years, the nonprofit expects to represent Africa’s largest network of smallholder farmers. By listening to the farmers, it developed a simple solution that enables them to grow their farm income by 50 to 100 percent on every planted acre. Farmers living in remote places need support in more than one area. One Acre provides a comprehensive market bundle:
- Farm inputs on credit: It provides an $80 loan in the form of basic seed and fertilizer.
- Delivery: It delivers this within walking distance of the people they serve.
- Training: It provides training on correct usage of farm inputs, which dramatically improves farm profitability.
- Harvest sales: Last, it enables farmers to sell their harvests at a significant profit through market access and improved storage.
Farming is the dominant economic activity of the world’s poor. One Acre Fund makes that activity significantly more productive and is growing as fast as possible to capture an incredible opportunity.
One Acre Fund believes that farmers are the answer. When farmers improve their harvests, they pull themselves out of poverty. They also start producing surplus food for their neighbors. When farmers prosper, they eradicate poverty and hunger in their communities. One Acre Fund is growing quickly and is proud to soon represent Africa’s largest network of smallholder farmers. By 2020, One Acre Fund will serve at least 1 million farm families—with more than 5 million people living in those families. When millions of farmers speak with one voice, they can more effectively pursue collaboration together with government and the private sector to broaden their reach. In November 2013, One Acre Fund received a three-year, $11.6 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop new innovations in technology adoption for Africa’s smallholding farmers.