What’s the Peery Foundation Doing for African Farmers?

The Peery Foundation has been around since the late 1970s, but it's become a whole new entity since 2008, when Dick Peery’s son, Dave, began working full-time toward fully establishing and scaling up the foundation’s grantmaking programs. A good slice of Peery's annual giving (which remains under $10 million) goes toward global development and a decent chunk of that money is dedicated to helping small holder farmers in Africa.

Related: Peery Foundation: Global Development Grants

For example, one Peery grantee is Nuru International, a Palo Alto-based anti-poverty organization. The grant supports the organization’s overall model of ending extreme poverty in remote and rural areas in Kenya and Ethiopia. Nuru works with small holder farmers in some of the most isolated and difficult to reach places in Kenya and Ethiopia.

On the other side of the continent, the Peery Foundation backs myAgro. Based in Mali, myAgro helps local smallholder farmers by using mobile technology to run a layaway program through which poor farmers can purchase supplies such as fertilizer and seed. The organization also provides training on modern farming methods to help increase production and quality.

Komaza is another Palo Alto based anti-poverty organization in Peery's global porfolio. Komaza concentrates the majority of its efforts in Kenya. Smallholder farmers that enroll in Komaza’s program receive training, maintenance support, planting inputs and harvest and sales support.  

Finally, the Peery Foundation is backing the One Acre Fund to support its smallholder farming work in Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, and Rwanda.

All these groups are repeat grantees, with grants usually around $100,000. Peery began giving to both Nuru and One Acre in 2008. Komaza came on board in 2010 and myAgro in 2012. That said, the Peery Foundation doesn’t make these annual grants by rote. There is a thoughtful methodology behind its global giving, which aims to invest in "scalable models creating access to quality goods and services that improve the lives and livelihoods of the poor." The foundation is looking for market-based approaches that offer a path to economic self-sufficiency, and likes to back organizations that are still in the pilot stage or have already proved their concept can work and now need help getting to the next level.

This will all sound familiar to readers who've read our coverage of the Pershing Square Foundation, which takes a similar approach and is supporting some of the same groups working with African farmers. 

Related: What Does It Look Like When a Hedge Fund Billionaire Takes on Global Poverty?

That's no mere concidence. Peery and Pershing Square are both members of Big Bang Philanthropy, a loose collaborative of funders that favors addressing the fundamental needs of the world’s extremely poor populations through initiatives that can be scaled up for real impact. Organizations backed by Big Bang funding can be for-profit or not-for profit, startups, or in the capacity building stages. 

The Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation is another funder in Big Bang that takes a venture approach and likes to back anti-poverty groups at an early stage, as we've reported. A half dozen other funders are also part of Big Bang. We love watching what this crew is up to as they seek to reinvent how global development philanthropy works.