Case Detail

Case Summary

One Acre Fund: Outgrowing the Board

Case Number: 5-210-259, Year Published: 2011, Revision Date: December 02, 2016

HBS Number: KEL542

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Authors: Anne Cohn Donnelly; Eliot Sherman

Key Concepts

Microfinance, Social enterprise, International business, Board of directors, Corporate governance, Growth, Organizational change


One Acre Fund, a young, international, nonprofit social enterprise—governed by friends of the founder—had grown rapidly since its inception. It now faces increasing demands for resources and key connections to major potential donors, expertise in going to scale, and managing expansion. The case presents this issue, which is commonly faced by new nonprofits, and how the organization, led by the board chair, seeks to resolve it through redesign of the board and major changes in board membership.

Learning Objectives

Identifying issues boards of new organizations face, particularly when they are selected for their commitment to the founder rather than the expertise they would bring to the board; analyzing the range of options for revamping a board so it matches the growth and needs and sophistication of the organization.

Number of Pages: 17

Extended Case Information

Teaching Areas: Non Profit, Organizational Behavior

Teaching Note Available: Yes

Geographic: Kenya, Africa

Industry: Agriculture

Organization Name: One Acre Fund

Organization Size: Small

Decision Maker Position: Board Chair

Decision Maker Gender: Male

Year of Case: 2008