We believe that ending rural poverty in Africa starts with bigger harvests, but it doesn't end there. To equip millions of children to achieve their full potential, we need to think broadly about how we tackle persistent challenges -- and how we ensure that our work is creating an impact.
At One Acre Fund, we draw inspiration from a large community of other nonprofits, social enterprises, and international organizations that work alongside us to meet these challenges. While they each have different aims and models, they share a commitment to ending poverty and building a better future for rural communities. There are so many organizations that are doing serious, impactful work that we admire. We wanted to share just a few, to highlight some of their amazing work.
1. Digital Green
Like One Acre Fund, Digital Green believes that the best way to solve poverty is to empower farmers. The nonprofit uses locally produced videos to train smallholders on agricultural techniques that can increase crop yields and improve nutrition. Digital Green measures its impact by collecting data from farmers on their agricultural practices and market prices, which informs the organization’s work and helps it target its programs more efficiently. So far, Digital Green has reached 1.5 million households in Asia and Africa.
2. Greenlight Planet
Electricity remains a luxury in many rural areas, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, where millions of families rely on kerosene lamps to light their homes at night. This can be expensive and cause health problems from breathing in smoke. Greenlight Planet is a for-profit social enterprise that’s working to solve this problem by manufacturing reliable, affordable solar lights for people living off the electric grid. In fact, the company is One Acre Fund’s solar light supplier -- and we’ve provided more than 480,000 of them to farmers over the past six years! In total, Greenlight Planet has supplied solar products to 27 million rural consumers in 60 countries. More than 80 percent of users reported having improved air quality in their homes.
3. Last Mile Health
Accessing quality healthcare can be especially difficult for people in remote rural communities who often don’t have reliable means of transportation. People who live hours or even days away from the nearest medical clinic are more likely to die from treatable conditions like malaria, infections, or complications from childbirth. Last Mile Health is a nonprofit bringing critical services to remote communities in Liberia by recruiting, training, and equipping community health workers. To understand the organization’s impact, just look at the numbers: In 2016, Last Mile Health treated more than 21,000 children under age 5 alone. Through a partnership with the government, it will deploy health workers to reach 1.2 million people in rural areas nationwide by 2021.
African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) is an organization that provides fellowships to female agricultural scientists in Sub-Saharan Africa, enabling them to build their leadership capacity and scientific skills. More than 1,100 scientists have benefited from investments so far. In December, the organization announced that it will manage a new $15 million fellowship program aimed at supporting Africa’s adaptation to climate change.
Eyeglasses can have a profound impact on a person’s life. Children who can’t see often have trouble learning and stop attending school. When adults lose their vision, it can affect their ability to earn a livelihood. VisionSpring is a nonprofit that distributes glasses in rural and urban communities that don’t have regular access to eyecare services. The organization estimates that eyeglasses can improve worker productivity and allow wearers to increase their incomes by about $108 annually -- a huge impact in developing communities where many workers earn just $2 a day. For every donor dollar received, the organization creates about $23 of economic impact.
Millions of women lack access to proper menstrual products, which can cause shame and discourage girls from attending school. AFRIpads is a social business that makes affordable, hygienic sanitary pads that can be reused. One Acre Fund has partnered with AFRIpads to supply these products to farming families in Kenya. The company, which is based in Uganda, has reached 1.5 million women and girls worldwide, and 90 percent of its local employees are women.
7. Members of Propagate
Improved farming inputs like seeds and fertilizer are crucial to increasing crop yields and eradicating hunger. Unfortunately, many farmers are unable to afford these tools, and they lack access to reliable financing. That’s why One Acre Fund has teamed up with a group of smallholder finance practitioners to form Propagate. The members of this coalition -- which includes Agora Microfinance, BRAC, Juhudi Kilimo, Opportunity International, and VisionFund International -- are working to spread the word about opportunities in smallholder finance and facilitate the development of better financial products for farmers. The potential for impact is huge -- about 450 million smallholder farmers in Africa, Asia, and Latin America currently lack access to financial services, with an estimated $200 billion in unmet needs for credit worldwide.