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In My Own Words: Jeremy Muganda

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Jeremy is a people-centered associate with a knack for innovation. He talks about his growing career in agriculture and how he uses technology to create convenience and efficiencies for smallholder farmers.
By Flora Nanjala
Life at One Acre Fund

When Jeremy Muganda left Kenya for the United Kingdom, he had an important goal in mind: to expand his knowledge of technology and leverage it for rural development. A few years later, armed with a Bachelor's in Computing and Masters’ in Business Administration, Management and Information Systems, he landed a role as the Client Delivery Associate at One Acre Fund-Kenya, leading our Home Delivery Service Unit. Read about Jeremy’s journey and how he impacts smallholder livelihoods by using technology to create convenience and efficiencies for farmers.

Jeremy Muganda

How would you describe your role at a dinner party?

I oversee the Home Delivery Unit at Tupande, by One Acre Fund. I work with a fantastic team to bring our products and services to farmers’ homes — we typically scout for motorcycle riders willing to work with us to deliver farming and lifestyle products directly to the farmers. I am responsible for setting up my team’s strategy and implementing systems to ensure our processes flow smoothly. In a nutshell, we use technology to offer smallholder farmers convenience and provide a good customer experience.

You’ve been at One Acre Fund for ten months now. How are you settling into your new role?

I am enjoying every bit of it. This role has challenged and pushed me out of my comfort zone and into a creative mind space. One Acre Fund has an open and inclusive culture I specifically appreciate the weekly check-ins with my manager and informal coffee chats with colleagues, which were a new concept to me. I believe the check-ins inspire creativity and innovation because I get my manager’s undivided attention to discuss ideas, solve complex challenges, and pivot where necessary. The organization has open communication channels where I can directly contact a director and have an open dialogue with them.

I am happy with our progress in expanding the Home Delivery service. Previously we worked with a third party to carry out Home Deliveries but realized we’d do a better job of it ourselves since we understand farmers’ needs better. We moved to completely own the service and set up a last-mile delivery software that allows us to organize the collection and drop-off points. We liaised with our field officers to recommend responsible riders from their community. The process is relatively smooth for the riders orders are assigned to them a day in advance, they switch on their mobile data to check the orders assigned to them, and swipe to accept. They then proceed to the Duka, where the Duka team validates the order, after which the rider can see the delivery location using Google map coordinates. The software is efficient and gives us real-time information on the number of satisfied deliveries.

I desire to see a Home Delivery service that is synonymous with the efficiency and quality One Acre Fund is known for and accessible across Kenya. We are working towards a stable, fully automated service for excellent customer experience. 

Have you faced any challenges, and how did you address them?

For this service, success is in the details. Sometimes, getting the correct location coordinates can be challenging, and we have to contact the client for directions, including landmarks. Additionally, we recruit local riders who are well-versed in the areas we serve.

What led you to the agricultural sector?

One of my life goals was to go out into the world, get the best education, and use it to improve my home country, Kenya. I have always been interested in the development space because it directly impacts individuals and communities. One of my friends got into One Acre Fund before I did, and she kept telling me how well she enjoyed the culture and how much the organization was changing the lives of smallholder farmers.  Additionally, my family owns a farm where we grow macadamia, and I was naturally intrigued. As I reflected on the agricultural sector and farming communities in Kenya, I recalled how much work we put into our farms smallholder farmers are some of the most hardworking individuals, yet, most of them miss out on products and services that can help them attain prosperity. I decided this is how I’d like to utilize my skills, so I applied when the opportunity presented itself. 

What would you say is the best part of your work day/week?

I look forward to connecting with colleagues — I enjoy brainstorming sessions with the team to find solutions to the challenges we face in our work. I enjoy coffee chats with my peers because I learn about the exciting projects they are working on. These informal chats expand my knowledge base while allowing me to network with professionals within the organization. Additionally, One Acre Fund has a brilliant approach called ‘going to Gemba’, which I really enjoy — staff regularly visit the field to learn best by seeing our work in action.

What is your mantra?

Inclusion! I want even the quietest team member to contribute and feel involved in our decisions. I want them to know that their role matters and impacts the team’s achievement and the farmers we serve. I am in service to my team, and I represent their interests.

What are some of your proudest moments at One Acre Fund?

Running program pilots! We plan so much and are always looking at project tools and spreadsheets but seeing the delivery in action for the first time was a crucial moment for our team  we got to see all our plans come to life. I recall witnessing a delivery to a farm, and the farmer was so excited and amazed that the same services his son receives in Nairobi city were now available to him in rural Kenya.

What do you envision for the future of Africa’s agriculture? How would your role at One Acre Fund help in attaining this?

I am passionate about climate change farming feeds the world’s population but changing weather patterns are a constant threat. The future of agriculture lies in practices like climate-smart techniques, which One Acre Fund champions. These techniques help maintain and boost yields while conserving the environment and tackling land degradation. Smallholder farmers are stewards of a huge portion of the world’s agricultural land, and central to climate conservation. I want to bring climate-smart products and services closer to all farmers and help play a role in climate conservation.

How would you describe working at One Acre Fund? 

Innovative! One Acre Fund uses technology and data to solve farmers’ challenges and encourages its staff to continuously innovate and find new ways of supporting the challenges farmers face daily. 

Have you picked up any new skills or learned anything new about yourself during your time here?

I am less afraid of failure. Success is not a straight line; there are often several options to explore, and sometimes you take a few steps forward and a few steps back. The more you do it and pivot from the lessons learned, the closer you get to success. I love that our culture challenges us to think out of the box and allows us to use failure as a stepping stone to better results. 

What is one belief you’ve had your whole life that has helped you become who you are today?

Be kind to everyone you meet. You never know what someone is going through.

If you could lead a parade through the city, what theme would it have?

It would have an African theme with colorful bright colors. African culture is loud, bold, and cheerful. We are unapologetically loud and lively – from our clothing to our laughter and music. While studying in the United Kingdom, I would hang out with my fellow Africans just to be reminded of home. We bonded over food and music. It was interesting to see how we were from diverse parts of the African continent, but when in a foreign land, being African brought us together and helped us appreciate our different genres of music, food, culture, and individuality.

Are you a gatherer or a hunter?

A hunter! I go for what I want in my personal and professional life. I am ok with always asking questions as long as it helps me improve my knowledge. 

What advice would you give to yourself when you were starting your career?

Be patient and work hard. Sometimes hard work does not equal an instant reward, but it can be a learning curve to success.

 

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