Skoll Foundation


Smallholder Productivity and Food Security

Three-quarters of the world’s poorest live in rural areas. The majority rely on agriculture as their primary income and food source. Secure access to capital, land, technologies and other assets can lead to sustained food security and income generation – as well as contributing to long-term rural livelihoods. The aim is to move beyond subsistence farming and enable greater financial stability, but not at the expense of the environment. We advance innovations that address these issues not beneficiary by beneficiary but system wide.
Regions include: Africa, Asia, Latin America.


Landesa tackles a neglected barrier to progress: land rights. More than a billion people have little to no legal control over the land on which they depend. When women, in particular, gain such rights, good things happen: farm yields increase, child welfare improves, domestic violence goes down.  Landesa launched the Landesa Center for Women’s Land Rights to ensure millions more women are able to claim these legal rights to their land. It is now amplifying its message to support land rights internationally.

International Development Enterprises India’s (IDE-India) sells a treadle pump and rip system, selling affordable irrigation technologies. Every product produces a net return on investment of more than 100 percent of the purchase price every year. IDE-India’s treadle pump and drip system are used by more than 1 million smallholder farmers. These farmers make an additional $400 every year, with cumulative farmer earnings of over $1 billion over 15 years.

KickStart sells irrigation pumps in Kenya, which have helped create 91,000 profitable new businesses. These businesses generate $92 million in new profits and wages each year, lifting 455,000 people out of poverty.

One Acre Fund provides rural farmers in Kenya and Rwanda with farming inputs, training and capacity building, and access to markets. In less than four years, One Acre Fund has helped triple the harvests and double the income per acre for subsistence farm families.

Proximity Designs uses a design-centric approach identifying high-impact opportunities to boost agricultural productivity and increase income for millions of smallholder farm families. The pioneering on-the-ground enterprise in Myanmar (Burma) designs, builds, and markets affordable products and services that vulnerable rural families use to transform their lives: they design with empathy. So far more than 90,000 income-boosting products and service have been sold, changing the lives of more than 400,000 people. Proximity will grow its work in irrigation products, farm advisory services and product financing as well as expand into rural energy products.

Root Capital has given more than 780 loans totaling $200 million in credit to 290 small businesses across Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa. It’s financed the cultivation of 1.3 million acres of sustainable agriculture, and trained 74 businesses in financial management.

Telapak shifts Indonesia from illegal logging to community-based logging. It is the first organization in Southeast Asia to help achieve group forestry certification for logging cooperatives. Telapak worked with a community partner NGO to facilitate the first-ever Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) group certification in Southeast Asia. Over the past three years, this single community cooperative has cut 3,000 trees and planted 2 million new ones. The 2,106 members of the cooperative now earn more than three times as much for their wood.


Skoll Entrepreneurs Fighting for Change:


© 2015 Skoll Foundation.