Last month, One Acre Fund hosted its bi-annual open analyst call. During these calls, One Acre Fund founder Andrew Youn discusses the organization’s progress towards achieving key performance indicators, announces country-specific milestones, and shares plans for the future. On this call, we learned about One Acre Fund's promising growth projections and new country expansion plans.
The call began with a report on growth over the last six months. The One Acre Fund core program is now projected to reach 314,000 farmers by year-end, exceeding our goal to reach 305,000 farmers in 2015. This is a 33 percent increase in farmers served since 2014.
In Kenya, our field team is almost finished collecting repayment from farmers for 2015. Enrollment recently opened for the 2016 season, and demand for the program is running ahead of projections. In Rwanda, 98 percent of farmers repaid their loans, slightly above last year’s repayment rate, and input distribution for the 2016A season (September through March) was completed.
Excitingly, Burundi was able to close the 2015B season (March-June) at 100 percent repayment for the second year in a row, and input distribution for the 2016A season was completed. And in Tanzania, we added a new operating region, Mbeya, this past season. It is the largest operating region geographically of any existing One Acre Fund country operation, which presents us with new learning opportunities for serving farmers with larger average land sizes.
Expanding to New Countries
Youn dedicated the final portion of the call to a deep dive on One Acre Fund’s new country expansion plans. After outlining One Acre Fund’s phased trial approach for new countries— which begins with market analysis, then initial scouting and progresses to pilot launch— Youn provided in-depth updates on three new country pilots: Malawi, Uganda and Zambia.
Headquartered in Zomba, One Acre Fund’s Malawi pilot presents an incredible opportunity to reach the 1.9 million food-insecure farm families that could benefit from our core program. 90 percent of the workforce in Malawi works in agriculture, and One Acre Fund has extensive experience working with the primary staple crop of Malawi, maize.
Uganda has a very similar farmer profile to that of Kenya— high population density and reliance on maize and beans. However, because farmer adoption of hybrid seed and fertilizer is much lower than in Kenya, there is a big opportunity to serve Ugandan farmers beyond One Acre Fund’s pilot site in Kamuli.
Zambia is our newest country pilot. The country has a lower population density and larger plot sizes, which will allow us to test out model adaptations such as larger loans, a more robust market access program, and R&D on mechanized tools (e.g. tractors).
Keep an eye out for our next analyst call six months from now, when we will provide updates on how all these initiatives are proceeding.