Wednesday, August 22, 2012

One Acre Fund Growing

One Acre Fund was highlighted today in Financial Times. As my long time bleeps know, this venture is scaling, having impact, and closing the gap financially. According to this article, it is now serving 130,000 customers after just a few years.

This is venture gapitalism at work- One Acre Fund is recouping 85% of its costs from loan repayments (from its customers).  In this virtuous cycle, the farmers are largely supporting the business that allows them to double their productivity. Which increases their income and reduces their food insecurity. A new wrinkle on "helping those that help themselves." Does One Acre Fund still need donations? Absolutely, but they are able to have a bigger "impact" footprint with their model, than if they merely used these donations to buy seed and fertilizer and gave it to the farmers.

A recent report by Acumen Fund and Monitor discussed the needed role for early philanthropy to prime the pump for social ventures. My colleague, Tom Dean, has written on the entrepreneurial opportunities that result from market failures. And the Blue Ocean framework helps analyze opportunities to create and exploit new markets by reimagining an industry, and then reinventing it.

The One Acre team has mashed up these ideas, added more than a dash of intolerance, and created an enterprise that is changing lives in rural Kenya. Their recipe: "We use markets to eradicate hunger permanently."

They aren't discussing it, analyzing it, or considering it... they are doing it today.

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