How do you introduce yourself?
My name is Annaise Kwizera; I lead the Field Operations team at One Acre Fund in Burundi (locally known as Tubura – ‘to grow exponentially’). I'm hardworking and passionate—when I start something, I finish it.
How long have you been at One Acre Fund, and what did you do before your current position?
I joined the organization in August of 2019. Before then, I held junior-to-mid management roles in a telecommunications company for about 11 years.
What do you do on a daily basis?
My work days generally start at 5 am with a semi-fixed morning routine that includes reading and responding to personal emails. I then focus on planning for my workday to define my day's priorities before heading to the office. I spend most of my days overseeing the execution of priority projects that include enrollment, farmer education, and credit repayment. I work closely with my colleagues and ensure that tactical actions and initiatives that drive our program’s strategies happen as they should. I am very particular about my team’s well-being, paying attention to their workload to ensure work-life balance. It’s important to me that everyone feels motivated, fulfilled, supported, understood, and involved. I also organize weekly field visits to meet with the larger team and interact with farmers.
What do you love about working in Burundi’s agricultural sector?
I can summarize my life’s purpose as to lead positive change and give as much compassion as possible. I set out to give love and help others or contribute to their happiness. I am a change agent with a knack for driving community impact. I love being in a space where our individual and collective efforts create prosperity for rural communities, help realize food security, and allow farmers to take charge of their own development – leading prosperous lives, educating their children, and leaving a better world for future generations. This is particularly close to my heart because Burundi’s economy rides on agriculture, and women dominate the sector itself. Working with farmers is a dream fulfilled.
You’ve mentioned ‘community impact’. What does it mean to you?
I think about impact in terms of our work and the value we create. On the one hand, we bring farming knowledge to farmers and provide the farming tools and materials they need on credit to plant on time every cropping season. When farmers harvest more, they get the food they need to lead healthy lives, and sell their surplus harvests to pay for their children’s education and build decent homes. We also facilitate market access so farmers can get fair prices for their harvests, allowing them to invest in other revenue-generating activities. The other aspect of impact goes beyond households to cover entire communities. For example, through agroforestry, we help communities conserve their environment, ensuring farmers can profitably farm for years. We also employ our staff from the communities we serve. People will often ask me where I work, and when I say One Acre Fund, some don’t always recognize us immediately because we are growing. But when I tell them we employ about 900 people, their eyes light up because people value job creation.
Give us a window into Annaise as a person. If someone did a reality show on you, what would it be about?
This is an interesting question. I am a multiple-layered person, but, in short, it would take the tenor of Dora the Explorer – tenacity, love, creating connections, and overcoming obstacles. I love traveling and meeting new people. I delight in cooking, especially for groups of people, and just seeing them enjoy a nice meal. I love charity and children; I would love to open and run an orphanage someday. Some of my friends call me Miss Happiness or the Smiling Queen – because I don’t easily give in to anger. I am humble and have strong values, which I get from my mom; I never compromise.
How do you think your work inspires women to break the mold by breaking boundaries?
I started my career in a setting with strict but professional managers; those early interactions forged the professional I have become. I learned not to be afraid to take leaps and to embrace opportunities to grow. I like to think that these values inspire other women in my circles, particularly those who look up to me. I inspire others through my grit, passion, and never-give-up spirit.