At One Acre Fund, we are a family of leaders who put Farmers First. To guide our work, we use a decentralized leadership structure that keeps our decision-making as close to our clients as possible. Our general partners align on organization-wide strategic goals and vision. Our country directors and steering committees lead our country-level strategy and growth. And our senior field leaders oversee our service delivery to more than 800,000 farm families.
Andrew Youn started One Acre Fund in 2006 with co-founders Eric Pohlman in Rwanda and John Gachunga in Kenya. The organization was inspired by two farmers in Kenya working similar plots of land. The differences were small: one planted in rows, while the other broadcasted seed. One could afford higher quality farm products. Yet one farmer harvested four times as much food as the other. Providing access to better farm products and education on farming techniques became the driving mission behind One Acre Fund.
Our 17 general partners are division and country directors from across One Acre Fund, who meet twice a year to align on broad strategic goals and high-level vision for the organization. General partners align around major organizational drives, such as defining our 2030 vision, and then advise our country operations as needed. The general partner role is not one we hire for, but rather a responsibility earned through significant contributions to the organization.
Country Directors & Steering Committees
Our country directors and deputy country directors guide the strategy for our country-level operations. Each confers with key deputies and a steering committee, generally made up of department leaders, to make programmatic decisions. Together this group sets long-term operational and expansion goals for their teams, guides our financial strategies, and weighs in on our country staffing plans and trial pipelines.
Our Field Staff Management teams and our 23 senior field directors lead our field operations, ensuring that 800,000 farmers have a great experience with our program. On a daily basis, our field leaders manage large teams and ensure that farmers receive on-time farm products and high-quality trainings. They plan strategies to expand our program, and hold us accountable for providing valuable services that put food on farmers’ tables and incomes in their pockets.
Our roughly 25 global directors lead support teams that provide consistent services across the organization. Global departments such as Finance, Human Resources, Legal, Procurement, and Technology develop efficient processes for a growing organization, and provide specialized support to in-country teams.
Our Commitment to Diverse Leadership
As we describe our leadership today, it’s important to also share where our leadership is headed. We need more African leaders with deep local knowledge and long-term commitment to the farmers we serve. We’re simply not there yet: All general partners and most country directors and deputy country directors are currently international staff. In our startup days, we relied on our U.S. networks for hiring, and this founding team has grown into leadership roles.
Today, it’s a top priority of ours to hire and develop talented African leaders who will guide the next phase of our organizational growth. Most of our recent senior hires are African: In 2018, seven out of nine of our external manager and director hires in Africa were African nationals. We’re deeply committed to diversifying our leadership, and in the coming years we expect both our country directors and general partners to better reflect the communities we serve.