February 2, 2015

Guest Commentary - Doing Good Better: Knowledge-Sharing for Nonprofit Social Enterprises

One Acre Fund Insights

By One Acre Fund 

One Acre Fund considers itself a member of the social entrepreneurship movement. That is, we belong to a category of nonprofit social enterprises whose efforts are guided by entrepreneurial ideals of constant innovation, data-driven impact, scalability, and financial sustainability. Our new online library, One Acre Fund Insights, features reports and white papers that highlight our unique approach to social entrepreneurship.

The way we see it, we’re in the business of delivering much needed services to some of the hardest working people on the planet: smallholder farmers. We’re not interested in maximizing profit. Our goal is simply to make more smallholder farmers more prosperous by giving them access to the financing and training they need to increase farm productivity. On average, One Acre Fund farmers increase their income by 50 percent on every planted acre. For the 200,000 farm families we serve in Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, and Tanzania, our comprehensive service bundle is the difference between hunger and plenty.

While One Acre Fund employs business strategies to help smallholder farmers grow themselves out of poverty, the “social” part of the social entrepreneurship movement means we belong to a community of practitioners who are cooperative instead of competitive. Rather than keeping mum about an important discovery or a highly impactful program model, the development community values sharing information and lessons learned.

The way we see it, sharing best practices means more organizations can learn how to do good better. With the recent launch of One Acre Fund Insights, we’re realizing we need to step up our game as innovators and collaborators in the agriculture development space.

Recently, we published results from our crop trials, along with information on our approach to staff development, scaling innovations, and pursuing financial sustainability. This year, we’ll be publishing more crop trial papers, and will be adding new white papers in the farm finance  and agriculture policy sections of the library. Our goal is to share lessons learned and provide insight into these important areas of research and discussion.

While sharing our successes is important, some of our most valuable learning at One Acre Fund has happened because of failures. Because learning from our mistakes has helped us immensely, we've included white papers that critically examine One Acre Fund projects that have not succeeded.

One Acre Fund Insights is a work in progress. Our vision is to create a community-wide resource that evolves and extends beyond our own work. To accomplish this, we’re planning to feature articles and case studies produced by leading agriculture development organizations whose work we admire.

Building a community of practitioners who share best practices and lessons learned allows nonprofit social enterprises to deliver innovative solutions that have real impact on the people we serve. If we don’t share what we know, we run the risk of spinning our wheels, devoting time and resources to ideas that have already been proven ineffective.

Our hope is that more organizations will join us in sharing both their successes and their failures, so we can all do good a little better.
Interested in submitting a publication to One Acre Fund Insights? Let us know!  
One Acre Fund is nonprofit agriculture organization that offers 200,000 smallholder farmers in East Africa the seed and fertilizer, financing, training, and market facilitation that they need to significantly increase their agriculture productivity and incomes. 


The Global Food and Agriculture Program aims to inform the development of US policy on global agricultural development and food security by raising awareness and providing resources, information, and policy analysis to the US Administration, Congress, and interested experts and organizations.

The Global Food and Agriculture Program is housed within the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, an independent, nonpartisan organization that provides insight – and influences the public discourse – on critical global issues. The Council on Global Affairs convenes leading global voices and conducts independent research to bring clarity and offer solutions to challenges and opportunities across the globe. The Council is committed to engaging the public and raising global awareness of issues that transcend borders and transform how people, business, and governments engage the world.

Support for the Global Food and Agriculture Program is generously provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


1,000 Days Blog, 1,000 Days

Africa Can End Poverty, World Bank

Agrilinks Blog

Bread Blog, Bread for the World

Can We Feed the World Blog, Agriculture for Impact

Concern Blogs, Concern Worldwide

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End Poverty in South Asia, World Bank

Global Development Blog, Center for Global Development

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ONE Blog, ONE Campaign

One Acre Fund Blog, One Acre Fund

Overseas Development Institute Blog, Overseas Development Institute

Oxfam America Blog, Oxfam America

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