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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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!
In early 2016, One Acre Fund co-founder and Executive Director Andrew Youn delivered a talk at the TED2016: Dream conference in Vancouver, Canada. In his talk, titled "3 Reasons Why We Can Win The Fight Against Poverty," Youn presented practical strategies to end extreme poverty– and made the case for putting farmers first in this fight.
The presentation began with Youn describing his own experiences living and working in rural East Africa for the past decade.
“When I first moved to rural East Africa, I stayed overnight with a farm family. They were wonderful people. They invited me into their home. We sang songs together and ate a simple dinner. They gave me a blanket to sleep on the floor. In the morning, however, there was nothing to eat. And then at lunchtime, I watched with an increasingly sick feeling as the eldest girl in the family cooked porridge as a substitute for lunch. For that meal, every child drank one cup to survive. And I cannot tell you how ashamed I felt when they handed one of those cups to me, and I knew I had to accept their hospitality.”
Youn went on to explain that while extreme poverty may seem like an insurmountable problem, it is actually a problem we can solve in our lifetimes. “Humanity is armed to the teeth with simple, effective solutions to poverty. We just need to deliver them,” he said.
One Acre Fund’s model was used to illustrate the idea that when farmers are able to access quality seed and fertilizer, credit, and agriculture trainings, it can mean the difference between hunger and plenty for entire communities. In addition, Youn highlighted the exciting potential to scale solutions like One Acre Fund’s model. Because most of the world’s poor are actually farmers, when they become more productive it means that “more than half the world's poor earn more money and climb out of poverty.” Youn said.
Watch the full video above to hear Andrew Youn describe the three levers we can pull to help smallholder farmers feed their families, and what he believes is the key ingredient in bringing a permanent end to global poverty.
Potential applicants at One Acre Fund's social enterprise happy hour
One Acre Fund is always looking for incredible talent to join our organization. There are lots of ways to connect with our recruitment team to learn more about the hiring process and the opportunities available.
1. Attend a Social Enterprise Happy Hour!
Happy Hours spotlight different social enterprises working in areas like agriculture, health and education. We regularly host Happy Hours and other recruitment events in Nairobi, Kigali and Kampala. Come out for a free drink, a great discussion, and a chance to meet with One Acre Fund recruiters.
You can stay up to date about all upcoming events if you…
2. Subscribe to our Career Newsletter!
Our Career Newsletter includes current job openings as well as links to Webinars and information about up-coming recruiting events. We also publish advice for job-seekers and great opportunities with partner organizations. You can subscribe to our newsletter here (at the bottom left of the page)
3. Connect with a Recruiter!
Interested in speaking with a member of the recruitment team? Fill out this form with your contact information, attach your CV, and a recruiter will get back to you as soon as possible to arrange a Skype or phone call. We make every effort to follow up with qualified candidates. For general advice on improving your application, please see this blog post.
It was Norman Borlaug who first issued the now-famous directive “take it to the farmer.” At One Acre Fund, we take these words to heart, putting Farmers First in everything we do, and delivering life-altering products and services to the very last mile.
One Acre Fund’s vision for 2020 is to improve the lives of more than 1 million farm families by delivering exemplary services to their doorsteps. To achieve this, our team must grow in both scale and complexity. We need additional high-performing staff members with experience in supply chain logistics and procurement to continue our strong growth trajectory.
If you join the One Acre Fund logistics team, you will have the opportunity to work in a fast-paced environment, surrounded by innovative, mission-driven individuals who are committed to growing and extending our well-established network of thousands of farm families.
Help us fulfill Norman Borlaug's directive and achieve our goal of serving 1 million farmers by 2020! Our team is looking for the following supply chain and logistics-related jobs:
It is officially Fall, and while the weather in New York may be cooling off, agriculture development is heating up!
Last month, when the UN General Assembly met and adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, ending hunger ranked second on the list. This month, agriculture development practitioners will celebrate farmers on World Food Day and Rural Women’s Day, and policy influencers and food security activists will highlight the important role agriculture must play in ending extreme poverty at the UN Committee on Food Security and the World Food Prize.
We could all use some help keeping up with the smorgasbord of food security events happening right now. Get up to speed with One Acre Fund’s Fall 2015 list of agriculture development must-reads (in no particular order):
2. The study "Smallholder Farmers and Business:15 pioneering collaborations for improved productivity and sustainability," produced by Hystra Hybrid Strategies Consulting, shows how pioneer companies and organizations have sustainably increased the income and livelihoods of millions of smallholder farmers around the world by sourcing produce from them or selling products to them. The study emphasizes smallholder farmers’ role as active partners rather than aid recipients, and provides valuable insights on creating more wealth along the value chain, running cost-efficient operations and sustainably sharing value with farmers.
3. "SDGs and Me: Farmer Voices on the Post-2015 Agenda" is the newest creative product from global sustainable agriculture coalition Farming First. Relying on interviews with 10 actual farmers from across the globe, these stories illustrate the central role the world’s 1.5 billion farmers play in delivering the ambitious post-2015 development agenda. How do these farmers see themselves taking action on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)? What do they hope the SDGs can do for them? Are they prepared to embark on such a large-scale challenge? Read their stories to find out what they have to say.
4. IFPRI’s "Global Nutrition Report 2015: actions and accountability to advance nutrition and sustainable development" bills itself as a “report card on the world’s nutrition—globally, regionally, and country by country—and on efforts to improve it.” In rural Kenya, 10 percent of children die before the age of five, with nearly half of those deaths related to hunger and malnutrition. While it may be obvious that nutrition is closely linked to child mortality rates, health, and education levels, the report also examines the critical, less-obvious connection between nutrition and climate change. While global progress to reduce malnutrition is characterized as slow and uneven, the report offers recommendations for strengthening accountability for businesses and other global actors to press forward and achieve nutrition targets.
5. This new Food Matters site from the folks at University of Minnesota’s Global Landscapes Initiative offers interesting long-form reads, supplemented by useful data and cool graphics on important topics in agriculture development, food security, and nutrition. The piece "Is There Enough Food to Feed the Future?" features a useful introduction to the history behind global crop demand today, and outlines the challenges (and poses possible solutions) to achieving the kind of food production needed to meet population needs by 2050. Be sure to bookmark this site, and check back frequently!
6. The Last Hunger Season, by Chicago Council on Global Affairs Senior Fellow Roger Thurow, traces the daily struggles and triumphs of four smallholder farmers and their families as they fight to overcome hunger and poverty in rural east Africa. (Ok, it’s not technically reading, but you may also enjoy The Last Hunger Season Film Series by Roger Thurow and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, which further explores the themes raised in the book through interviews and striking imagery.)
7. Agriculture for Impact’s Sustainable Intensification Databasebreaks down the three key pillars of sustainable intensification (SI): ecological intensification, genetic intensification and socio-economic intensification. With 27 sub-sections, 81 accompanying case studies, and additional resources to illustrate the pros and cons of each method, Agriculture for Impact’s interactive online platform presents a huge wealth of detailed information in a compelling, easy-to-navigate format. Don’t forget to check out their handy SI infographic!
8. With 17 goals and 169 targets, the UN General Assembly’s newly adopted 15-year global development road map is a lot to grasp. "The Story of Agriculture and the Sustainable Development Goals," also by the team at Farming First, makes getting up to speed easy and enjoyable. Useful graphs, graphics and a nice scrolling site do a great just job of illustrating the crucial link between agriculture and poverty alleviation.
9. "Global Food Security by the Numbers," by Chicago Council on Global Affairs Senior Fellow Charles E. Hanrahan, helpfully explains current US investments in global food security and makes recommendations for how to best clarify and track those investments across a range of government agencies. If you’re looking for a policy read to boost your Feed the Future fluency, this is a great place to start.
10. In Bill Gates’ blog "Who Will Suffer Most From Climate Change? (Hint: Not You)" tough truths about where our planet is headed are tempered with thoughtful insights about where we should focus our efforts: “Some impacts from climate change are inevitable. That’s why it’s critical for the world to invest in efforts to help the poorest adapt.” Watch the accompanying video to hear how changes in rain and weather patterns affect One Acre Fund farmer Wilbroda Nafula.
Inspired by what you're reading? Visit our jobs page to learn about 25+ exciting career opportunities in agriculture development!
This post was originally published on Linkedin Pulse. To view the original piece, click here. By Jennie Calhoun.
I lead recruitment at One Acre Fund, a nonprofit social enterprise that provides farmers with the inputs, financing and training they need to improve their productivity, increase their incomes, and permanently end hunger in their homes and communities.
Our unique operating model addresses each aspect of the agriculture value chain. But when people ask me what our single greatest organizational asset is, my answer is simple: people.
We’re lucky to receive hundreds of job applications each week, and our hardworking people operations team carefully reads each and every one. We take pride in having an extremely rigorous vetting and interview process, and while it may take several months to complete, we believe the farmers we work with deserve nothing less than the very best service. And that means recruiting the very best talent.
Our hiring philosophy centers on finding mission-driven professionals who want to build long-term careers at One Acre Fund, and who are committed to our philosophy of “Farmers First.” As someone who used to live and work in the field, I can confidently say that “Farmers First” is more than just a catch phrase— One Acre Fund staff humbly and tirelessly put Farmers First in everything they do.
When evaluating applicants, we look for a combination of role fit, values fit and organizational fit. But how do we manage to sift through all those job applications to hone in on the right candidates? For starters, it helps to have a set of clear, organization-wide principles that guide everything from our workplace interactions to our recruitment efforts.
While I won’t got into detail describing all of One Acre Fund’s core values, here are 3 hiring principles we’ve learned to live by:
Patience is a virtue— and a savvy hiring tactic. Ever heard of “Hire slow, fire fast?” While we don’t drag our feet with job applicants, we do believe it’s important to hire the right person for the right role – we’re not interested in rushing to fill important roles. While this approach can extend the interview period, it often results in employees with higher job satisfaction, better results and greater long-term commitment to their jobs. By playing the long game, we reduce our recruitment and training costs by investing more time, energy and resources into finding the right person. This pays huge dividends in terms of building organizational leaders.
The best predictor of a candidate’s future performance? [hint: it’s their performance]. While CVs can help us evaluate past performance, we’re really interested in how candidates perform live. That’s why our multiple-stage interview process involves completing several exercises, which mirror tasks the candidate would be assigned if they were to fill the role in question. This has the dual benefit of allowing us to see how someone would tackle a project, while also helping candidates test-drive the role they’re applying for.
Values, Values, Values. While we just finished extolling the virtues of high-performing candidates, high performers who match the values of your organization are the ones who are going to add a ton of value to your team in the long run. Living conditions in the field can be challenging for some. For an organization like One Acre Fund, the ability to complete tasks in unfamiliar or adverse conditions is crucial to success, so we tend to look for candidates who hold our values of working hard and being flexible in service to our farmers. For all our positions, a humble, no-frills attitude is absolutely essential.
Today, One Acre Fund serves 280,000 smallholder farmer families across Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania. By 2020, we plan to serve at least 1 million families. We wouldn’t be where we are now, or be able to set ambitious future goals, without our exceptional team of hard-core, mission-minded professionals willing to put Farmers First every single day.
So if you’re a professional recruiter, or a nonprofit social enterprise looking to boost the quality of your applicant pool, take it from me: carefully honing your hiring process to evaluate applicant values, performance, and team fit is one of the best time investments you can make.
Want to join the One Acre Fund team? Visit our jobs page and apply today!
You've read our reading lists, and joined our career webinars. Now, you have a chance to come meet One Acre Fund staff in person, and learn more about what a career putting Farmers First is actually like.
Below, we share our Fall 2015 Recruitment Event Calendar. Be sure to mark your calendars, and check back here for updates, because event dates and times are subject to change.
Don't miss the chance to come introduce yourself!
Be Social Change Social Impact Showcase Panel
9/16/2015, 6:30pm EDT
New York, NY
Columbia Graduate Student Career Fair
9/18/2015, 12- 4pm EDT
New York, NY
Stanford Fall Career Fair
10/1/2015, 10:30am - 4pm PDT
Palo Alto, CA
Georgetown SFS Info Session
10/14/2015, 4pm EDT
SAIS Info Session
10/15/2015, 12:30pm EDT
SAIS Fall Career Fair
10/16/2015, 12:30 - 3:30 pm EDT
Unite for Sight Social Entrepeneurship Institute
New Haven, CT
UVA Global Development Career Day
11/5/15 - 11/6/15
Harvard Global Health, Humanitarian, & Human Rights Fair
It’s almost autumn, which means that it’s time to tune into One Acre Fund webinars! In these webinars, you will get behind-the-scenes details about what it’s like to work at One Acre Fund, and learn about exciting fellowship and job opportunities at our partner organizations.
In September, we’ll be co-hosting a webinar with Princeton in Africa, a fellowship that matches talented and passionate college graduates with organizations working across Africa for yearlong service projects. You’ll get to hear how former fellows have applied their experiences at PiAf as staff members at One Acre Fund, and gain valuable information about the application process.
In December, we’ll be co-hosting webinars with The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) and Global Health Corps. J-PAL is a global network of researchers who use randomized evaluations to answer critical policy questions in the fight against poverty. Global Health Corps is a fellowship organization that mobilizes a global community of emerging leaders to build a movement for health equity. Join us for both webinars to learn about how One Acre Fund staff and alumni of these organizations used their fellowship experiences to launch their careers in international development.
The webinars will follow a virtual Q&A format, and participants can submit questions online throughout the webinar. Follow the registration links in our Fall 2015 webinar schedule below to secure your space. We look forward to seeing you there!