By Brooke O’Connell
It only takes one person to see a problem and take action to come up with a solution to bring positive impact to the lives of thousands. This is what One Acre Fund Co-Founder, Andrew Yuon, did and continues to do.
While abroad in Kenya, Yuon noticed a great number of shareholder farmers who struggled to obtain enough food and income from their crops to survive. To alleviate this problem, Yuon founded One Acre Fund in 2006 to bring financing, distribution, training, and market facilitation services to the farmers in Kenya. Ten years after its creation, the non-profit now serves over 400,000 farmers in six East African countries.
The key to the success of One Acre Fund is their commitment to putting farmers first in everything they do. The services provided are not handouts but rather an investment in the lives of the farmers so that they can make enough to create a path out of poverty. And their strategies are working. In 2015 One Acre Fund helped farmers increase their income by an average of 55%, while maintaining a loan repayment percentage of 99%.
When Yuon created One Acre Fund he knew he was addressing a great need and he knows that what they have accomplished so far is not enough. The majority of the population in the world’s developing countries are farmers and One Acre Fund has a vision to serve at least one million farm families by the year 2020.
Alexina Prather (Human Services major, Social Entrepreneurship minor) co-ops at the non-profit on the People Operations team and has a front row seat to the accomplishments of One Acre Fund. “Working for an organization that sets such high goals (like 1 million farmers by 2020) provokes an extremely motivated work ethic for myself and the other employees at One Acre Fund. I am constantly inspired by my co-workers and their commitment to the work that One Acre Fund does,” she reflected. With a projected 500,000 farmers served at the end of 2016 and only four years to achieve their one million mark, it would seem One Acre Fund set a daunting goal but Prather is unfazed. She explains, “One Acre Fund has established and scaled a successful model, but is always looking to expand further and dive deeper. One Acre Fund has a commitment strategy rather than an exit plan for their farmers, and I think that is an effective way to make lasting change.”
All it takes is one person to create lasting change and for Prather or fellow Northeastern students, who knows? Yesterday, Northeastern. Today, co-op. Tomorrow, the world.