A run-in at reunion leads to a collaboration fighting hungerBy Sonali Basak
"There's a certain amount of serendipity to all of this," Clinical Professor of Management & Strategy Harry Kraemer said on connecting to the One Acre Fund. The Kenya-based nonprofit works with getting small-scale farmers resources to pull themselves out of poverty.
Andrew Youn ’06 founded One Acre in 2006 while at Kellogg. Youn never had Kraemer as a professor, but the former CEO of Baxter International and current executive partner at Madison Dearborn would coach Youn on running One Acre outside the classroom.
After graduation, Youn moved to Kenya to run One Acre. He visited Kellogg for his five-year reunion in 2011, the same week Kraemer ’79 launched his book, "From Values to Action: The Four Principles of Values-Based Leadership." They ran into each other at reunion and started talking.
On Dec. 11, One Acre honored the collaboration that conversation started with a gala in Kraemer’s honor.
Country by country
Kraemer decided to put the principles “From Values to Action” into practice, donating all his proceeds to a worthy cause. He saw no better fit than One Acre and Andrew Youn.
“This is a guy who decided he wasn't going to wait for anything, he was going to make it happen,” Kraemer said. “To have an impact on the entire continent – to go country by country to eliminate poverty in all of Africa – that's the goal.”
Kraemer also promised to speak monthly on One Acre’s journey. Since then, he spoke nearly 240 times to companies, colleges and organizations on Youn’s leadership.
One Acre chooses one person yearly whose influence significantly impacts farmers. The book proceeds aid One Acre in doubling or tripling farmers’ crop yields, hiring good advisors and buying better seeds and equipment.
But Youn said the honor was largely due to Kraemer’s humility. “It’s really needed in our world,” Youn said. “He talks in his book about values that drive a leader … He’s the one that embodies all those things.”
Kraemer said Youn’s humility facilitated a connection to people he serves. It helped Youn grow the network to four countries, build staff of close to 1,700 and serve close to 127,000 farms.
This reaches 137,000 farm families, with the goal to reach 1.4 million families by 2020.
Youn’s story resonates with companies and students tremendously, Kraemer said.
“He's a real example that gets beyond talking about it to actually doing it,” Kraemer said. “A lot of folks can actually talk about it, but not realize that it's never too early to start.”