I’ve recently been impressed with the work of the agricultural NGO One Acre Fund. While on assignment in Kenya for business magazine “FIVE,” I documented the organization’s work with small farmers. These farmers usually cultivate no more than approximately one acre of land and therefore are usually the most in need. While OAF works in both Kenya and Rwanda, these photographs are from western Kenya’s Webuye district.
Why is One Acre Fund featured in a business magazine? Its model differs from that of most non-profit organizations. Instead of handing out improved fertilizers and seeds, farmers are given loans for these things and organize in groups under the supervision of a extension worker to learn how to use them. The groups then bring their harvests together at the end of the season when One Acre Fund acts as a bulk selling agent, thus commanding higher prices for the farmers. In 2009, farmers working with One Acre Fund increased crop yields at a rate of 100%, with a 98% repayment rate of loans. Currently, 45% of One Acre Fund’s field costs are covered by farmer repayments, a percentage that continues to grow. Sound more like a sustainable business than aid? Let’s hope so.