Sidley was recognized as the 2018 “Service Partner of the Year” by One Acre Fund, a nonprofit that helps smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa surmount the challenges of subsistence farming and improve their financial stability.
One Acre Fund’s clients, many of whom are women, own small plots of land in rural Africa and rely almost exclusively on family labor to run their farms, which often do not produce enough crops to feed their families, let alone enough to sell for badly needed cash.
As part of its mission to reduce endemic poverty and hunger in the region, One Acre Fund provides the farmers with financing for high-quality seed and fertilizer; training on agricultural techniques; solar lights and clean energy resources to help power farms; and mobile technologies to connect farmers with market access.
Through Sidley’s Emerging Enterprises Pro Bono Program, One Acre Fund has enlisted the help of the firm on a variety of matters over the last six years. Most recently, this includes seeking guidance from a team of lawyers from multiple practices and offices on complex loan agreements to increase access to capital and fundraising opportunities.
As the organization has expanded its footprint, Sidley has provided ongoing assistance with registrations of One Acre Fund entities in more than a dozen countries, as well as aided in protecting its IP rights globally. Sidley also spearheaded a multi-year effort to help One Acre Fund strengthen its internal HR policies, trainings and compliance controls.
“This kind of effort by Sidley’s lawyers across the globe is, in my view, the quintessential example of a company using its greatest asset, the talents and passions of its people, for maximum social good,” said Matt Forti, Managing Director at One Acre Fund.
The Service Partner of the Year award was presented at One Acre Fund’s annual End Hunger gala in Chicago. This year’s event raised more than $2.1 million, which will go toward the organization’s goal of reaching one million farming families by 2020.
“We are honored to receive this recognition from One Acre Fund and to continue working together to help smallholder farmers and their communities thrive,” said Pamela Martinson, a partner in Sidley’s Global Finance practice who has worked with One Acre Fund for the past four years on a variety of debt financing transactions.