No matter how far humanity has advanced, we are still unable to feed every member of our race. Even today, in an age of unprecedented prosperity, 224 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa are undernourished. This stifles human potential. Among the extreme rural poor, one in ten die before age 5, and for those that survive, hunger has life-long consequences: nearly half are underweight, stunted, or both. An incredible opportunity lies underneath this problem: nearly 70 percent of the world’s poor are hard-working farmers. If properly supported, they are capable of feeding their families, their communities and even the world.
Improving small farm productivity represents the greatest humanitarian opportunity of our time. One Acre Fund knows how to do this — they have developed a proven system that improves the profits of targeted activities for Africa’s farmers by 57%. By expanding to new regions, they can help people earn their own way out of poverty. Family farms generate 80 percent of the world’s food, so this could be a step toward ending hunger altogether. It also offers the only alternative to converting vast tracts of forest and savannah to agricultural use, with disastrous climate impact.
With an injection of resources, One Acre Fund plans to scale from serving 750,000 farm families in six countries across East Africa and move toward operation at an even more meaningful scale. By 2020, they will work with 1.25 million farmers per year, helping to ensure that 5 million children are well-fed and financially stable. One Acre Fund’s model asks clients to pay for the services they receive, dignifying farmers as customers, and generating income to expand the organization’s reach and impact. Their goal: to build the largest farmer network in Africa and increase prosperity.
One Acre Fund has grown tremendously since its start in 2006, when it served only 40 farm families. Their success stems from three key innovations. First, they offer a complete bundle of services — they distribute high-quality farm inputs, and also surround farmers with the training and support they need to prosper. Second, they deliver their solution deep into rural areas where other retailers, NGOs and microfinance lenders do not go. And third, they work extensively with female farmers, ensuring rich soil, big harvests and healthy families. They are on track to reach their goal of serving 1.25 million farmers by 2020. Along the way, they've enabled farmers to adopt 200,000 solar lights and plant 15 million trees.
When Andrew Youn first visited Kenya in 2006, he was an MBA student who knew little about farming. But during that trip, he met two farm families — one was thriving and one was going hungry. He set out to understand the difference. He has lived in rural Africa ever since, growing One Acre Fund and its ability to offer the financing and training needed for small farmers to increase their yields and climb out of poverty.
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