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We're in the middle of repayment. Wait, let me back up. One Acre Fund gives loans to small farmers, in the form of seed (maize, in Kenya) and fertilizer. We give them training on how to use it, they plant, harvest, and pay us back in cash or maize.

So we're accepting cash repayment. We have about $200 in our budget to give incentives for the groups that finish repayment first. Patrick (Kenyan field director) and I are sitting around brainstorming ideas. It's hard, because you want to give them something of substance, that'll generate income over the long run, that a group of six to twelve farmers can practically share.

Pigs? Too expensive. Chickens? Tough to share, and how do you decide who gets the chicks, or income from eggs?

We land on trees. Tree seedlings are super cheap and can be harvested for firewood or sold as lumber. We figure out how we can pay to transport the tree seedlings to farmers, and still have enough in the budget to give each group 200 tree seedlings. We choose a tree that benefits soil fertility, isn't so thirsty that it's going to starve other crops for water, and can be harvested in 2-3 years.

We're pretty pleased with ourselves, and settle in for the Friday field managers meeting. We mention the incentive to them. They nod politely. We ask what they think. They look at each other, then look at us.

"It would be good if we could provide t-shirts," Vincent says.
"Sorry - farmers would rather have One Acre Fund t-shirts than 200 trees?"

The field managers nod vigorously.


last timestamped: 16:28:06 28-Aug-2009
in categories:OneAcreFund, People/Me

2 Comments

This is hilarious. Reminds me of so many miscalculations I've made in the past.

posted by Eric Nguyen mail homepage

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hilarious. a friend and i are starting a small design project, and debating the most appealing medium for the final work. i had hung my hat on posters; she said t-shirts. apparently i should to concede ...

posted by anna

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