From internship to leadership: Navigating the growth trajectory

Liviness speaks about her career progression, and her deep desire to use her skills to impact the farming community that raised her.
Life at One Acre Fund

When Liviness Chiusiuwa started her professional journey, she sought more than just a job – she yearned to positively impact the farming community that raised her, a place where her career could flourish, her voice could resonate, and a seat at the decision-making table was not just a dream. Joining as an intern and now leading our field execution work in Malawi, Liviness believes that the career path she decided to pursue at One Acre Fund has allowed her to transform her aspirations into reality. 

Liviness Chiusiwa

Please tell us a bit about your role and what it entails on a day-to-day basis.

I serve as the Malawi Field Execution Lead, overseeing the implementation of various field activities and impact initiatives. My responsibilities are broad, covering performance management of the field team, crafting and executing repayment strategies, working on farmer impact projects, and managing the field execution budget. I work to establish a clear connection between budget allocations and the tangible benefits farmers receive. I do this in a way that safeguards them from the shocks of unexpected high expenses by ensuring that the cost of farm inputs does not translate into higher prices for the farmers that need them. 

You speak so passionately about farming, why is it important to you?

Farming is rooted in my upbringing as a child of farmers. Having lost my mother at a young age, I spent my formative years with my grandmother in the village, where I gained firsthand experience of the challenges faced by smallholder farmers. Witnessing my grandmother prepare the land without access to essential resources like fertilizer and quality seeds left a lasting impact on me.

As I now reflect on the struggles of those days, I recognize the importance of organizations like One Acre Fund in ensuring that today's farmers don’t go through what my grandmother did. At One Acre Fund, we encourage both traditional methods like composting and the use of manure, while also providing modern solutions like quality seeds and fertilizers. This comprehensive approach not only ensures the availability of crucial farm inputs but also contributes to soil health through initiatives like composting, tree planting, and contour farming.

Tell us a bit about your journey with the organization – from the time you started to date.

It has been a great experience that spans from my initial role as a student intern back in 2012, where I focused on monitoring and evaluation. After my internship, I returned to complete my studies and later joined the organization the same year as a Field Officer in a permanent capacity. I progressed from there to a Program Associate role, and eventually, assumed my current position. I consider One Acre Fund not just an employer but a partner in my professional development. The skills I have acquired have equipped me to lead a team of over 300 colleagues—a good indication of the organization's dedication to fostering leadership skills among its team.

What drew you to work at One Acre Fund? What do you enjoy most about working here?

As a fresh graduate seeking a non-traditional challenge, I was drawn to One Acre Fund because, at the time of my joining, its operations in Malawi were relatively new. The opportunity to be part of an organization in its early stages was particularly appealing, as it meant I could contribute to shaping its trajectory from the very beginning.

What I enjoy most is the open and collaborative culture at One Acre Fund. The open-door policy and quick decision-making processes contribute to a vibrant workplace where ideas flourish and projects progress rapidly. This culture, coupled with the freedom to present and implement ideas, has enabled me to contribute significantly to the organization's impact. 

Can you share a specific project or moment in your career at One Acre Fund that you are particularly proud of?

We have a project dubbed ‘Munda Otsogola’ (Modern Farm) that is a concerted effort in response to the impacts of climate change. Through it, we have empowered farmers through resilient strategies, emphasizing diverse crop cultivation and tree planting, which buffer against climatic shocks. Additionally, the project advocates for the implementation of contour plans in fields and the adoption of composting practices. I am humbled to be part of a project that not only addresses the challenges posed by climate change but empowers farmers with sustainable practices, securing their agricultural activities for the future.

Liviness supporting farmers
Liviness supporting farmers 

Imagine you had a time machine that could transport you to any point in the future. What do you hope to see in the agricultural landscape of Malawi, and how would your role at One Acre Fund contribute to that vision?

My dream is to have an agricultural sector where, during planting seasons, every farmer has access to essential farming inputs, eliminating reliance on recycled seeds. I aspire to see widespread extension services and resilient farm families mitigating climate change impacts. 

To contribute to this vision, my role at One Acre Fund allows me to work with an amazing team to bring quality farm inputs close to farmers and educate them on the importance of environmental conservation and fertilizer micro-dosing, all of which are crucial components to helping farmers become more prosperous. Success today sets the stage for a future where we can reach and positively influence the lives of every Malawian farmer.

Can you share a surprising or unexpected skill or hobby you have?

I have a strong background in netball, having represented my country in international competitions. Even today, I continue to indulge in this passion by playing with a local team during weekends. It's a great way for me to stay fit and connected with the sport.

Additionally, I love dancing. I am known for my enthusiasm on the dance floor, and it's a hobby that brings me immense joy. Dancing serves as a personal commitment to maintaining a positive outlook. No matter how challenging work may be, I have made it a rule not to let it impact my happiness. After all, a happy me is a more productive and resilient me.

Liviness at a team retreat
Liviness at a team retreat

What advice would you offer to individuals who aspire to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others through their careers, based on your experiences at One Acre Fund?

Set clear goals. Having a goal acts as a compass, guiding your efforts and keeping you focused. Ask yourself why you are on your chosen path and what you aim to achieve. This clarity becomes your driving force and a reason to persevere when faced with challenges.

Secondly, recognize the value of teamwork. No monumental achievement is solely an individual effort. Acknowledge your team as an asset, and foster a collaborative environment. Ultimately, making a meaningful difference requires dedication, collaboration, and a clear sense of purpose. Keep your goals in focus, value your team, and celebrate the collective journey toward positive change.


Staff profile