The MasterCard Foundation and One Acre Fund Launch $10 Million Partnership to Increase Incomes of Africa’s Smallholder Farmers and Grow the Farm Microfinance Sector

The project will enable 181,000 additional farm households to gain access to farm finance and training

Des Moines, Iowa (17 October 2013) – The MasterCard Foundation and One Acre Fund today announced a $10 million partnership that will expand access to financial services and training for smallholder farmers in Kenya, Rwanda, and Burundi. The project will enable 181,000 additional poor farm households to improve their farming techniques, and ultimately double their farm profits on every planted acre.  The partnership will result in increased capacity and strengthened systems to serve a greater number of rural smallholder farmers, and employ over 770 additional people as One Acre Fund field staff.  The partnership will also help pioneer a new sector of microfinance, increasing the interest and commitment among microfinance institutions to expand successfully into rural areas.

Founded in 2006, One Acre Fund has designed and proven an innovation that enables Africa’s poorest farm families to grow more food for consumption and sale in local markets. The organization’s model provides farmers with a comprehensive “market bundle” of services delivered to their doorsteps, including high yielding seed and improved fertilizer for staple crop production, financing through in-kind loans, on-farm weekly trainings, and post-harvest assistance through improved storage and market facilitation. One Acre Fund also continuously pilots and tests adaptations to their current model to provide, on credit, additional life-improving products and services to their clients, such as solar lights and tree seedlings.

Since 2006, One Acre Fund has achieved increasing success across its three core metrics. The organization has steadily increased its scale, and now serves 135,000 farm families across Kenya, Rwanda, and Burundi. It has improved its financial sustainability annually; in 2012, farmer loan repayments covered 84% of field expenses. Importantly, One Acre Fund has achieved high impact with every farm family served: on average, doubling farm profits on every planted acre.

According to One Acre Fund’s founder and CEO Andrew Youn, the need for farm microfinance is vast. “We believe there are as many as 50 million extremely poor African households in high-density, agricultural areas across Sub-Saharan Africa that could benefit from finance,” Youn explains, “yet less than 10% of these farmers have ready access to this powerful development tool. One Acre Fund is honored to be partnering with the MasterCard Foundation, a world leader in financial inclusion for the extreme poor, to help shape the emerging rural, agricultural finance movement on a global scale.”

“Agriculture and agri-business hold tremendous potential to help living in poverty in Africa improve their quality of life and build better futures for their families,” said Reeta Roy, President and CEO of The MasterCard Foundation.  “With One Acre Fund, we will share valuable lessons about supporting the agriculture sector through financial inclusion, as well as the broader impact this work can have on the well-being of poor households.”

Through its partnership with the MasterCard Foundation, by 2016 One Acre Fund will grow to directly serve 450,000 farm families across its current countries of operation – Kenya, Rwanda, and Burundi. The organization will also strengthen its core MIS and M&E systems, to enable continued improvement to its program design and greater cost efficiency in its operations, and to capture the most accurate and compelling evidence of impact. Finally, One Acre Fund will actively share its knowledge across the sector – through targeted knowledge dissemination and the establishment and publication of core principles for rural, agricultural lending. To this end, the project seeks to build a definitive “proof of concept” for farm microfinance: demonstrating that it can be accomplished at high impact, sustainably, and at scale, and thus increasing commitment among microfinance institutions to expansion in rural areas.

About One Acre Fund

One Acre Fund is a growing NGO in Kenya, Rwanda and Burundi that invests in farmers to generate a permanent gain in farm income. The organization provides farmers with a “market bundle” that includes seed and fertilizer, finance, training, and market facilitation. The program is proven impactful – every year, the organization weighs thousands of harvests and measures more than 100% average gain in farm income per acre. One Acre Fund’s approach has won widespread validation, winning grants from the highly competitive Echoing Green and Skoll Foundations, and the global Financial Times/IFC award for “basic needs financing” in 2010 and 2011.  In 2013, One Acre Fund was listed as #18 in The Global Journal’s Top 100 NGOs.  For more information, please visit www.oneacrefund.org.

About The MasterCard Foundation

The MasterCard Foundation is an independent, global organization based in Toronto, Canada, with more than $7 billion in assets. Through collaboration with partner organizations in 46 countries, it is creating opportunities for all people to learn and prosper. The Foundation’s programs promote financial inclusion and advance youth learning, mostly in Africa. Established in 2006 through the generosity of MasterCard Worldwide when it became a public company, the Foundation is a separate and independent entity. The policies, operations, and funding decisions of the Foundation are determined by its own Board of Directors and President and CEO. To learn more about The MasterCard Foundation, please visit www.mastercardfdn.org.

For more information, please contact:

Stephanie Hanson, One Acre Fund

stephanie.hanson@oneacrefund.org

+1 646-450-8140

Toni Tiemens, The MasterCard Foundation

ttiemens@mastercardfdn.org

+1 647-837-5787