As many of you know, one of my personal goals is to give several leadership talks and seminars each week for the benefit of the One Acre Fund in Africa. I appreciate the fact that many of you as a result of these talks have made donations personally and through your organizations in past years — thank you very much!
To those of you not familiar with OAF, and those that would like an update, let me provide some background: One Acre Fund was founded by Andrew Youn (a Kellogg 2006 graduate) and several colleagues in 2006 with the goal of helping African farmers produce higher yields of farm products for their families by utilizing naturally-produced hybrid seeds, small amounts of fertilizer, and improved farming techniques. The results over the past 16 years have been nothing short of unbelievable! OAF staff consists of 9,500 African team members who currently serve more than 3.2 million farmers and generate more than $210 million in new farm profits for the farmers and their families. The efficiency of OAF is best in class. For every $1 of donor investment, the OAF has created $2.70 in new farm products.
When my first leadership book, “From Values to Action” was published in 2008, I called Andrew in Kenya and told him that he, his management partner Matt Forti, and the entire OAF team were the best example of “from values to action” that I had ever seen. So I shared with them that when I wasn’t teaching or serving on boards that I would try to give talks on values-based leadership, corporate governance, and M&A to any organization willing to contribute to the OAF. Rather than requesting a speaker fee, I asked organizations to make donations to the OAF and purchase copies of my books from which all author proceeds also go to the OAF. Well, here’s where my sincere THANKS to all of you becomes key. As a result of the efforts of my Kellogg, Baxter, and Madison Dearborn colleagues, as well as my former and current students and fellow executives, I have given more than 1,000 talks to benefit the One Acre Fund in the past 13 years. Here’s a picture of a donation check from the Virgin Pulse team last week during a leadership presentation in Tampa. I was fortunate to visit Andrew and his teammates in Bungoma, Kenya several years ago with my family. It really was a life-changing experience to see the impact on the lives of the farmer families.
And it is clear that Andrew and his team, despite the remarkable progress to date, are not slowing down!! Here’s an amazing TED talk by Andrew Youn on global poverty and the work of the One Acre Fund. So where does the One Acre Fund go from here? Here’s the current OAF goals as summarized on their website: “By 2030, we aim to serve 10 million farmers—fully 10 percent of the families in the world living on less than $1 per person, per day.” Thanks again for all you do for the One Acre Fund!!