Andrew Youn

One Acre Fund
Year founded: 

One Acre Fund has designed and proven an integrated, market-based approach that enables any poor farmer, many of which live from meal to meal, to double farm profits in one planting season.

Focus: Agriculture
Geographic Area of Impact: Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi
Model: Hybrid Non-Profit
Number of Direct Beneficiaries: 130,000 (2012)
Annual Budget: US$ 21 million (2012)
Percent Earned Revenue: 55%
Recognition: Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2013

Rural farmers make up 75% of the global poor. Many farm families endure an annual 3-6 month “hunger season” of meal-skipping and meal-substitution, causing high rates of child mortality and illness. In rural East Africa, 10% of our children do not survive until age one, and half of those surviving fit the international definition of “physically stunted.” The struggle of farm families presents both a unique humanitarian opportunity and a complex challenge. On the positive side, the majority of the world’s poor are farmers, and share strikingly similar characteristics. This uniformity presents an opportunity. However, the corresponding challenge is that poor farmers live in extremely rural areas, where there exists a “market void.” Traditional services fail to have impact with a population that needs support in more than one area. For example, if rural farmers are not linked to financial services, they are unable to purchase high-quality seed and fertilizer locally. Even if farmers are linked to training and they succeed in producing a strong harvest, they are unable to connect to profitable markets to sell their surplus. This “market void” sets the stage for subsistence-level farming, chronic hunger, and devastating poverty.

Innovation and Activities
Since 2006, One Acre Fund has been working to serve rural farm families. One Acre Fund offers a unique “market bundle” to bring a functioning value chain directly to rural farmers. The market bundle includes: 1) high-quality seed and fertilizer to grow primarily staple food crops like maize and beans, 2) financing, 3) weekly farm training led by an extensive network of local field officers, and 4) post-harvest and market support including training on household storage practices to minimize post-harvest crop loss. Through this combination of services, farmers permanently transform their livelihoods – from poverty to profit-generation.

One Acre Fund strives to help every farmer attain the tools, knowledge, and support to satisfy their most basic needs. To achieve this goal One Acre Fund has positioned itself for rapid growth and expansion with a focus on three metrics:

• Scale: One Acre Fund began in 2006 by serving 125 farm families in western Kenya. In six years, it has grown to serve 130,000 families across East Africa. To promote scalability, One Acre Fund has invested heavily in standardized protocols and training of management staff.
• Impact: One Acre Fund currently serves 130,000 rural farm families in Kenya, Rwanda, and Burundi, encompassing over 650,000 children. The average client is a female smallholder farmer with five children and only a few years of primary school education. Even as One Acre Fund pursues rapid growth, it maintains its commitment to each farm family. Farmers double their profits on every planted acre and One Acre Fund continues to innovate new ways to serve families, including crop insurance products, chlorine dispensers for clean drinking water, and solar lights.
• Sustainability: The innovative, revenue-generating model enables One Acre Fund to have a sustainable impact on the lives of farm families. One Acre Fund utilizes donor funding to expand and reach new farm families, but existing districts of operation are nearly self-sustaining. In 2012, One Acre Fund will recover 85% of field expenses through loan repayment, and in 2016, the two largest countries of operation – Kenya and Rwanda – will reach 100% financial breakeven.

The Entrepreneurs
Andrew Youn graduated from Yale and received a Master’s in Business Administration from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern. Before founding One Acre Fund he worked as a management consultant. In 2006 he was selected as an Echoing Green Fellow and in 2010 he was named a Skoll Awardee.

Tony Kalm graduated from Cornell and received a Master's in Public Health from the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins. He became the inaugural leader of One Acre Fund USA, and now sits on One Acre Fund's board. Presently, Tony is a senior member of the CGIAR crop research system which is the world's premier research collaboration on behalf of smallholding farmers everywhere.