My Journey into One Acre Fund - Flora Nanjala
What did you do before joining One Acre Fund?
I have been in agriculture for over a decade, the most recent before here being in Amiran, so I still used to work with farmers, just in a different space. While there, I did public relations and marketing, and we helped pioneer conversations on agriculture on social media. It looks and is probably easier now, given the level of engagement and interactions we see on agriculture in the digital space today, but people found those conversations boring at first, and we were constantly thinking about how to make discussions about farmers and farming palatable enough for social digital audiences. It's nice to see that people have warmed up to conversations on food production, food security, and agriculture in general.
When did you join the organization, and why did you apply for a job at One Acre Fund?
I joined One Acre Fund in March 2022, but I had wanted to work with the organization for about five years before then. Sometime in 2017, my mom and I were talking about expanding her farm and trying new crops, but she didn’t have the capital. While researching options, I learned about One Acre Fund and fell in love with their work with farmers; I have wanted to work with the organization ever since. It is funny how once you take an interest in something, you ‘see it’ all over the place, so once I started researching One Acre Fund, I started seeing a lot of posts from the organization online and meeting its field officers whenever I attended agricultural shows and expos. I started engaging them in conversations about their work and learned much about how the organization works. Needless to say, my mom has farmed with One Acre Fund since!
Back to your question, agriculture is an exceedingly relatable subject, even for those not directly involved in it; it is ubiquitous to life – we all need food. Being in the agricultural industry for as long as I have, my professional compass has tended towards remaining in this crucial space. So when I saw an open role in digital marketing, I applied and ended up here.
If you could describe your interview process in one word, what would it be – and why?
Comprehensive. One Acre Fund is quite thorough in the way it interviews job seekers, and you get to understand why when you get in: we have some brilliant people who translate complex ideas into simple plans to help farmers make the most out of their work, and it is critical to get the right people for the job. The interview assesses competence and cultural fit; both of which are critical to our work.
Did anything stand out during the interview process? Is there anything you would change about it?
Yes: how broadly people here assume best intentions. My first interaction immediately put me at ease. The recruiting team answered my questions pleasantly and in detail, which is the impression that has remained with me to date. During my final interview, I was nervous because my tech malfunctioned – I was having a problem with my audio, and I worried that would affect how I came across. So my opening statement was an apology for my lousy tech, and the interviewing panel was so understanding that I forgot about it. They repeated their questions when I requested them to, and we ended up having a lovely discussion – laughing like old buddies and sharing jokes. I came out of that interview feeling like I was just from meeting my biggest cheerleaders.
Would I change anything? Knowing what I do now, no.
Tell us about the onboarding process — what is your most memorable experience?
It was all remarkable. My onboarding process was a time to learn, ask questions, and try different work approaches. I have a supportive manager who guided me through the process, setting the pace for our future interactions. Overall, it was a wonderful experience.
If someone turned the first three months of your One Acre Fund career into a movie, what genre would it be?
An adventure. Landing this role was awesome; building my fluency in internal processes, working on my starting projects, getting to know my colleagues, and learning to own my workstrands all made for a nice learning experience.
What has been your biggest win since you joined the organization?
In my time here, I have been immersed in building our global digital brand, which is already among the biggest in Africa, making it relatable to digital audiences, and participating in making agriculture conversations thrive. I went to the field often in my previous role and interacted a lot with farmers; I am happy that my current role allows me to keep doing that. These are important wins because it is what daily impact looks like from where I sit—bringing to life farmers’ experiences is like an ongoing TED talk where we affirm their innovativeness and give inspiration to thousands of others.
What have you learned over the past 12 months?
I have reinforced my conviction that farmers are hardworking, intelligent, and tenacious. I know this because I have worked with them for many years: they understand their challenges intimately and have excellent ideas about solving them. They want to improve their harvests, incomes, and lives. What often besets their progress is a lack of resources. I’ve learned that there are many things to discover and learn every day: how we work, the farmers we support, and our culture, and I live for the chance to bring these stories to the world.
One Acre Fund serves more than 1.5 million farmers in nine countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. What does knowing that we work at that kind of scale mean to you?
It is incredible and humbling. About 10,000 of us at One Acre Fund are talking, emailing, chatting, and executing our little bits of work daily, culminating in the level of livelihood-changing things that farmers accomplish. It is gratifying that the attention we put into our workdays allows different teams to convert ideas into tangible impact for millions of families. It also humbles me how smart the people I work with are, and can’t help but marvel at how lucky we are to have such wonderful brains driving our collective vision.
What advice would you give job candidates going through the One Acre Fund interview process or those considering applying for a role here?
To show up authentically for each interview stage – don’t misrepresent anything, ask questions and be patient with yourself and the process.
And finally, as a writer, you’re usually the one doing the interviewing here. How does being on the other side of the mic for a change feel?
(Laughs) I quite like it, actually. I love talking with people and rubbing off on their energy. I also know that the best story anyone can tell is their own, and I am glad to be telling mine.