Doing Good Better: Knowledge-Sharing for Nonprofit Social Enterprises

From foodtank.com, by Hilda Poulson
Doing Good Better: Knowledge-Sharing for Nonprofit Social Enterprises

One Acre Fund considers itself a member of the social entrepreneurship movement. That is, we belong to a category of non-profit 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 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. On average, One Acre Fund farmers roughly double their income on every planted acre and realize more than a 100 percent return on their investment. 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 quiet about an important discovery or program model, the development community shares information and lessons learned.

The way we see it, sharing the best practices means more organizations can 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 adding new white papers in the farm finance  and agriculture policy sections of the library. Our goal is to 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, so 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 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 a little better.

Interested in submitting a publication to One Acre Fund Insights? Please email hilda.poulson@oneacrefund.org.  

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