Innovation at One Acre Fund: Seeing the Forest for the Trees
One Acre Fund (1AF) is a nonprofit organization in rural western Kenya that helps farmers lift themselves out of poverty by providing a bundle of products and services that support farmers with quality inputs, training on farming techniques, access to credit, and assistance in achieving optimal prices. Since the organization's founding nearly a decade ago, it has grown to serve over 180,000 farm families annually as of July 2014. This high level of penetration into rural Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, and Tanzania makes 1AF a potential distribution channel for rolling out new products and technologies that could benefit farmers and their families. The organization prides itself on its innovative culture, and always strives to offer new products and methods to its farmers. In 2011 1AF realized that it needed to formalize its innovation process to ensure it was confident in new products before rolling them out across its entire farmer network. It therefore created a robust, multistep evaluation framework to assess new innovations on four criteria: impact, adoptability, simplicity, and operability.