Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Helping the African Farmer

First, a caveat. I have not been to Africa (yet).

Last night, Dr. Deborah Delmer of Rockefellar Foundation spoke at CSU about "Creating a Road Map for a Green Revolution in Africa," in which she laid out ideas for how to improve food production in Africa. Interesting to me, in that leaders like Deborah have clearly connected agricultural science with economics and business. That improvements in seeds, crop science, etc. need to also take into account downstream issues like markets, export policies, etc. As with our efforts at EnviroFit, it is the merging of appropriate technologies and appropriate business models that will enhance the chance of success.

From this summer's posts, Millenium Villages project is getting good results from this past season, which is very hopeful.

Interested in entrepreneurs working in this space? The guys at Kickstart are the best known, and I encourage you to read about them. And our fellow Colorado group, IDE has also been working on this for years. But this past week I met a new entrepreneur in this space at the Net Impact conference.

Andrew Youn just finished his MBA at Kellog last spring. Rather than join his classmates working with big companies, investment banks or consultancies, Andrew started his own company, the One Acre Fund. This comprehensive program has a systematic focus on eliminating hunger in a sustainable way. Andrew gave me a copy of his business plan, and I am impressed with the person, the idea and the implementation to date. In a few short months, he has the program going, and is working with over 100 families who have small farms. He has designed an organization that has a significant impact, a sustainable business model and is scaleable. He is attracting good talent.

Some highlights of his approach:
-don't give handouts
-provide a solution that is realistic for the extreme poor
-dream big
-remain 100% accountable

Please consider joining me in investing in the One Acre Fund (start by donating at least $20/month online).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Do you have an email address for Dr Delmer or others at Rockefeller or Gates that could help One Acre Farm?
Professor Barry Merkin