One Acre Fund, Sidley’s Emerging Enterprises pro bono client since 2012, supplies smallholder farmers with the tools and financing they need to grow their way out of hunger and poverty. This work has been particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic, as food insecurity remains an enormous threat. One Acre Fund estimates that normally the use of basic agricultural inputs and techniques produces incremental food that feeds 150 million individuals in Greater East Africa. With farmer incomes constrained, there is likely to be a significant reduction in investment in agricultural inputs, resulting in lower food production.
Sidley’s recent legal advice to One Acre Fund, led by counsel Vivian Root (London) and associate Helen Theung (Palo Alto), has allowed One Acre Fund to become more attractive to their investors and stay on track to achieve their goals.
“Sidley’s advice has been invaluable in setting up the program,” said Clemence Michelsen, Manager of Investor Relations for One Acre Fund. “Since then, you have supported us in updating the offering to respond to investors’ feedback and registering our program wherever required. Thanks to this, we have an attractive program, on track to reach our goal by the end of the year, and we plan to continue increasing it. This is an incredibly valuable source of capital for One Acre Fund.”
During these challenging times, One Acre Fund is determined to keep working hard to keep farmer pride and confidence high.
“COVID-19 has shown me that I have to work hard to feed the community,” said Marie Gorethi Murorunkwere of Ngoma District, Rwanda. “That’s why I work in my field every day.” With banana seedlings bought on credit from One Acre Fund, Marie is now earning 20,000 Rwandan francs (US$20) per month and helping to provide for her three children.
Lenatha Kisega, a One Acre Fund farmer from Iringa District, Tanzania, was able to grow enough maize this year so that her family would have enough to eat during the pandemic. “Personally, I have seen the benefit of farming with One Acre Fund,” Lenatha said. “I make sure I always testify and tell people the benefits that I am enjoying and for them to enroll as well.”
“My harvests have increased because of One Acre Fund, and that alone is a plus for me,” said Jericho Chitakwa from Kapiri North District, Zambia. He says the future is uncertain, but he is doing more than just hoping for the best: Jericho has purchased orange tree seedlings from One Acre Fund and is cultivating an orchard.
Sidley is proud to have provided legal advice to One Acre Fund for the past eight years. We look forward to continuing to support their mission of putting farmers first, which allows the farmers One Acre Fund serves to feed approximately 15 million individuals, including their own families and local communities.