BLOG Archive: January 2017

Capping Off Our First Decade: 2016 in Review

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Jan 12, 2017 Category: Roundup Tags: malawi technology uganda

One Acre Fund Malawi 10th Anniversary

The past year was full of milestones, not least because it marked One Acre Fund’s 10th anniversary. As we cap off our first decade and enter into the next, we’d like to look back at a few of the highlights from 2016.

New Countries

Farmers in Malawi at a One Acre Fund research station

Two farmers plant seeds at a One Acre Fund research station in Malawi

One Acre Fund officially launched full-scale operations in two new countries last year, Uganda and Malawi. We served more than 2,600 farmers in Malawi and 3,700 in Uganda in 2016, and we’re excited about the potential for growth in both countries  in the years to come.

New Technology

Tablet repayment One Acre Fund

A field officer uses a tablet to register newly enrolled farmers

Farmers throughout our Kenya operations were able to use a new mobile money repayment system in 2016, thanks to the hard work of our staff who ran trials of the program over the past three years. Mobile money transfers are helping us improve our efficiency, financial sustainability, and impact. Because field staff don’t need to spend as much time focused on collecting loan repayment, they have more time to provide farmers with high-quality agriculture trainings.

Overcoming Drought

Moses Odoli, Kenya

Moses Odoli, Kenya

Drought across several growing areas meant that some farmers experienced reduced harvests. Clients in the worst-affected areas received crop insurance payments to help mitigate the effects of the drought. Moses Odoli, a farmer from Numbuku village in Western Kenya (pictured above), said his entire maize crop failed during last year’s long rains season because of the drought. The family survived using income from sukuma wiki and other vegetables grown on a portion of their land small enough to be watered by hand from a nearby well. In spite of their difficulties, Moses is optimistic about 2017.

“I decided to stay with One Acre Fund in the next season because when I first enrolled, I saw a big difference in my harvest,” he said. “The dry weather is not One Acre Fund’s fault. I know that if it would have rained, we would have gotten a good harvest.”

Getting Our Boots Wet

Rwanda Boat Delivery One Acre Fund

Our team in Rwanda makes our first ever aquatic delivery

Our team in Rwanda took putting “Farmers First” to a whole new level in 2016 by executing One Acre Fund’s first-ever aquatic delivery. About 220 clients on Nkombo Island, which sits in Lake Kivu, received deliveries of fertilizer and solar lights by boat in September.

Building Up Support

Andrew Youn TED Talk One Acre Fund

One Acre Fund co-founder Andrew Youn speaks at TED 2016

It was also a big year for our thought leadership work. In 2016, One Acre Fund became one of the founding members of Propagate, a coalition of organizations working to increase the quality and availability of finance to smallholders. We published a report with the Brookings Institution that analyzed recent U.S. food security and agriculture programs under Feed the Future and made actionable recommendations for increasing the impact of future U.S. food security and agriculture programs. And our co-founder Andrew Youn delivered a TED Talk that emphasized smallholders as the key to eradicating hunger and extreme poverty.

Why Strong Government Relations Are Key At One Acre Fund

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Jan 11, 2017 Category: Staff Profile Tags: government relations recruitment staff profiles

Janina Schnick, One Acre Fund Government Relations

Janina Schnick, One Acre Fund Government Relations Manager

One Acre Fund works in six countries across eastern and southern Africa, so the relationships we’ve built with governments have been crucial to keeping our operations running. As we look forward to future growth, the team’s role is becoming even more important. Janina Schnick, a government relations manager based in Nairobi, sat down with recruiter Divya Bisht to talk about how the organization works with governments, as well as new opportunities on the growing team.

Divya Bisht: What does the government relations team do?
Janina Schnick:
The core role of our team is to maintain relationships with governments and provide support to key departments, so that One Acre Fund can keep doing its work in all the countries where we operate. We work on compliance, government procedures, risk and issue resolution, relationship management, and policy. Our team takes care of governments, so other teams don’t have to.

DB: Why is your work important?
JS: We’re one of the departments that doesn’t have a lot of visibility—you don’t hear from us if everything goes well. While working with governments can sometimes be challenging, it’s important to understand that One Acre Fund cannot operate without their approval. Nothing can be done in the long-term without government support. Government relationships depend on different country contexts and often on individuals, so our team focuses on leveraging those relationships to achieve the best possible operating environment in every country.

DB: Where do you see the department going in the next 3-5 years?
JS: Apart from making sure we have smooth operating environments in the field, we’re moving away from the support function only. We’re going to become more specialized, with different team members focusing on distinct topics such as policy analysis, expansion support, regulatory compliance, and new stakeholder engagement. In some countries, we have also started building political champions, for example by hosting members of parliament to field events, which is great marketing for our program in expansion areas. Of course, as One Acre Fund expands and enters new countries, we will regularly have to reassess our approaches of engaging government in different country contexts. While our strategies have been tried and tested in the places where we’re already established, this doesn’t mean that things will be the same elsewhere, so we’re always trying to keep an open, innovative mind about ways to engage governments for the benefit of One Acre Fund.

DB: What do you find most exciting about your department?
JS: I really like our department because it is quite nimble and diverse. We don’t need a lot of people to make a lot of things happen in many countries. It’s also interesting because we’re involved in many different aspects of One Acre Fund’s work, which starts in the field and can reach up to the highest levels of government. Our interactions with the Product Innovations team are particularly exciting: In many cases, we need licenses and permissions from the government to conduct field trials for new products, so we get to be involved in those processes from an early stage.

Janina Schnick One Acre Fund

DB: What roles are you hiring now, and what kind of profiles are you looking for?
JS: Ideally, we’re looking for East Africans, because in general, One Acre Fund is trying to hire local staff into higher-level roles. Work experience with governments would be an advantage, but it isn’t a deal breaker. Overall, ideal candidates need to have good communication skills and a patient attitude—in this field, you need to have a high frustration tolerance. I’d also add that candidates need to be very independent, because their manager may not be in the same country with them all the time.

DB: What is the trajectory for career growth?
JS: In the roles we’re hiring for, there are definitely going to be management opportunities from the start. We want to hire people who think broadly about their careers, who are always looking for new opportunities, and who seek out ways to develop new projects that help us in our work. Eventually, there will be opportunities to be involved in higher-level strategic decisions for the apartment. And, I would also say that since our department is quite small and global, there are opportunities to travel and work in many different countries. For example, I’ve worked in Uganda, Kenya, and have recently taken on handling government relations in Tanzania.

One Acre Fund is currently hiring for more than 60 open positions. To learn more about career opportunities in government relations or other teams, visit our careers page.

One Acre Fund 2017 Careers Webinars

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Jan 04, 2017 Category: Roundup Tags: careers kiva

One Acre Fund is excited to announce our webinar schedule for 2017. Can’t make the first one? No problem! We’re hosting career webinars every other month, so there are plenty of opportunities to connect. Each webinar will feature firsthand experiences from members of our team, and will include a Q&A session to address your questions.

In February, we’ll be hosting a webinar with one of One Acre Fund’s partner organizations, Kiva. Join us to learn how a Kiva fellowship can turn into a job in international development, and hear from former fellows who are now building long-term careers with One Acre Fund.

Follow the registration links in our 2017 webinar schedule below to secure your space. We look forward to seeing you there!

February Thursday, February 9th 12 pm EST Partner Webinar: Kiva and One Acre Fund Regisration Link
Wednesday, February 15th 1pm EAT Careers at One Acre Fund Registration Link
April Wednesday, April 12th 1pm EAT Careers at One Acre Fund Registration Link
Thursday, April 13th 12 pm EST Careers at One Acre Fund Registration Link
June Wednesday, June 14th 1pm EAT Careers at One Acre Fund Registration Link
Thursday, June 15th 12:30 pm EST Careers at One Acre Fund Registration Link
August Wednesday, August 16th 1pm EAT Careers at One Acre Fund Registration Link
Thursday, August 17th 12 pm EST Careers at One Acre Fund Registration Link
October Wednesday, October 11th 1pm EAT Careers at One Acre Fund Registration Link
Thursday, October 12th 12 pm EST Careers at One Acre Fund Registration Link