Sustainability. Local empowerment. Long term change.
One Acre Fund is dedicated to giving farmers the support they need to maximize their potential growth. And Gracie Sanford, a ’14 Olin Alum, is helping to make that happen. By bringing farmers, staff, and leadership together in the field they are connecting Africa’s largest network of smallholder farms. With this reach OAF provides financing for farm inputs, distribution of seed and fertilizer, training on agricultural techniques, and market facilitation to maximize profits from harvest sales. When most of the world’s poor are farmers, the most impactful thing to do is to provide the support they need to make their farms more productive.
Gracie explains the OAF model, “On a large scale, we provide inputs (think fertilizer and seed) to smallholder farmers on credit in East Africa. We distribute the inputs and also provide training on how to use them.” Then, once the crop is in OAF helps the farmers determine the best way to sell the produce and maintain sustainability.
Farms make up a patchwork landscape in Busangana, Burund where OneAcreFund currently serves 40,200 smallholder farmers
For her part, Gracie is focusing on supporting the farms through solar technology. Her team has been able to provide lamps and solar home systems to farmers at a reasonable price thanks to their reach and supporting network. Recently they just launched a few new products that have been seeing success in the field.
“It’s very rewarding to analyze the data we are receiving from the field to measure the impact and see those hard numbers with statistically significant differences between our clients who have the SHS (Solar Home System) and those that don’t,” Gracie says. “I also love going on field visits – I try to go once a week – to see how these products are directly impacting our clients.”
But overall, Gracie says that the most rewarding part of the job is the team. “The culture attracts active, driven people that are hard-working and insightful.”
And with OAF’s rapid expansion, the team is only getting bigger. From human development and front line health workers to teachers, farmer trainers, and sales agents, there are so many roles that need to be filled in order to make this plan a reality.
When asked about the future of the company, Gracie was very positive. “We have the demand for fast growth,” she said, “I think in 2 years, OAF will have grown significantly but also be more stable and have a few more of the kinks worked out. They’ll have stable operations in their 3 new countries (Uganda, Malawi, and Tanzania), and I’ll be excited to see the impact of that!”
If you are interested in getting involved with One Acre Fund, there are many positions available. Here are just a few.
- Kenya People Analytics Associate: Our Kenya program is seeking an systems-oriented professional with a passion for people who will work to improve our people services (HR, training, etc) in our largest country of operation with over 1,000 staff.
- Global Training and Development Manager: This position will lead a team of human capital development professionals across the organization to ensure our staff receive the highest quality training and professional development.
- Analyst to the Executive Director: Our executive director is seeking a candidate to provide strategic assistance for priority initiatives across the organization and execute high-level communications both internal and external.