Viola Nsengiyumva looks out over the two acres of land she and her husband, Deo, inherited from her father. The fields are thick with bushy, yellow-green vines. The beans are ready to be harvested.
Two and a half years ago, Viola’s fields were nearly bare. Even though she and Deo had land, they could not afford the seed and fertilizer needed to plant on all of it. Harvests were low, with just enough to feed the family. There was no surplus to sell for income.
“Before One Acre Fund, we would just manage to have enough to eat. We couldn’t sell anything we grew,” Viola says. “I would go to purchase fertilizer, but I would not be able to buy enough.”
After their first year of farming with One Acre Fund, a social enterprise fund providing financing and training to African farmers, Viola and Deo nearly doubled their harvest and sold some of their surplus to purchase three goats. The following year, they invested even more, purchasing 60 chicks. If Viola could raise the chicks to mature chickens, she would be able sell them for more than double the initial buying price.
Viola also used her additional income to start a banana business where she buys unripe bananas from her neighbors and then, once ripe, sells the bananas at the market, where they can command a higher price.
While some of her chicks fell ill before they could be sold, Viola and Deo still managed to turn a profit from the grown chickens and have invested 250,000 Burundian Francs ($160) into their banana business this year – double the investment they made the year before.
With the money they’ve made from their new businesses, they’ve been able to enroll one of their daughters in nursery school and open their first savings account at a bank, where it is safe from thieves and can be allocated to educating their three daughters.
“One Acre Fund has played a very important role in my life,” Viola says. “We hope our children can study through university and get good jobs. Any job will do: a minister, a lawyer, a teacher – that is up to God – but getting them there, that is up to us.”
• Hailey Tucker studied and practiced photography and journalism in the US for six years before joining the One Acre Fund team in 2012. Based in rural Kenya, she works to amplify the voices and stories of the 180,000 smallholder farmers working with One Acre Fund in Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, and Tanzania.
• This article originally appeared at Food Tank, a think tank focused on feeding the world better. Food Tank researches and highlights environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable ways of alleviating hunger, obesity, and poverty and creates networks of people, organizations, and content to push for food system change.