By Denver Frederick
Seventy per cent of the world’s poor are farmers, many of them concentrated in parts of eastern and southern Africa. In those regions, one in 10 farm-family children dies before the age of 5, with hunger as the primarily underlying cause, notes Matt Forti, managing director of the One Acre Fund. "Agriculture has become so much more productive everywhere else in the world over the past few decades," he says. "We said, ‘Why not Africa? What’s driving this? Can we do something about it?’ "
In ... the Business of Giving, Mr. Forti talks about the nonprofit social enterprise’s market-based model for attacking poverty and hunger in Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, and Malawi. Key to the effort is bringing advanced agricultural products and techniques to small rural farms and treating them as clients instead of beneficiaries. They receive loans, not donations, of "farm inputs" like hybrid seeds and fertilizer, as well as training in effective planting techniques.
The result is far greater crop yields, which enable farmers to repay the loans, which helps fund One Acre and keeps it growing. A decade after launching with 40 farmers, the organization now has 450,000 clients and aims to reach 1 million by 2020. The nonprofit is expanding in other ways, branching into crop insurance to protect farmers from calamities like drought and helping them switch from kerosene and candles to cleaner, safer solar energy.
One Acre’s model empowers farmers as well; they become investors in a viable enterprise, one they can pass on to their children and generations beyond. "We’re trying to alleviate hunger, but the long-term goal is intergenerationally," Mr. Forti says. "We’re trying to get families to be able to educate their children, and those children to be able to pull the whole family out of poverty."
Click this link to listen to the podcast, the Business of Giving.
--From the Chronicle of Philanthropy