Agents of Impact | August 21, 2020

Andrew Youn, One Acre Fund

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ImpactAlpha, Aug. 21 – The goods and services needed to end global poverty are proven and well known, says Andrew Youn, founder and executive director of One Acre Fund. “We just need to deliver them.”

In 15 years, Youn has built one of the world’s most effective organizations at delivering goods and services to Africa’s small farmers. One Acre’s 6,500- strong ‘delivery army’ distributes bundles of better seeds, fertilizer and other inputs on credit, along with training and market access. That helps more than a million farmers increase their productivity, feed their communities and earn more income.

“We don’t need more genius types right now,” Youn said in a 2016 TED Talk. “The humble delivery guy is going to end global poverty in our lifetime.”

For years, Youn has called for a major expansion of private capital, alongside a continued flow of philanthropy, to scale up the proven interventions. This week’s announcement of a $20 million package of “catalytic capital” is a down payment. Youn and One Acre aim to leverage the flexible loans into $100 million to serve up to four million farmers in rural Africa.

Catalytic capital: Reshaping risks and rewards to make markets work in 2020

If farmer loans have long been considered financially risky, Youn has made equipping smallholders with the tools they need a safe bet on impact.

Most of One Acre’s farmers are women. They’re physically strong, mentally tough, and do whatever it takes to earn a better life for their children, he said on stage.

Pointing to an image of a farmer behind him, he said, “If we’re going to put the future of humanity in what person’s hands, then I’m really glad it’s her.”