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Lean Impact for Ag: Transforming how we approach, design and fund solutions for smallholders
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When: Thursday, June 20th
9:00-11:00 AM EDT
Where: The Aspen Institute
2300 N St. NW
Suite 700
Washington, District of Columbia  20037
United States
Contact: Carly Giddings

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You’re invited to join us for the second event of the “Ag in the AM” series, co-hosted by MEDA and the ANDE Sustainable Agribusiness Learning Lab for a live discussion about lean impact for agriculture on Thursday June 20th from 9-11:00am in Washington, DC. We’re pleased to announce our main speaker, Ann Mei Chang, a leading advocate for social innovation and author of LEAN IMPACT: How to Innovate for Radically Greater Social Good. This event will begin with opening remarks, a brief talk by Ann Mei, the panel discussion and conclude with networking over light breakfast and coffee. Please join us in person or via zoom.

Lean Impact for Ag: Transforming how we approach, design and fund solutions for smallholders
Session #2 of the “Ag in the AM” Series 

The world’s 450 million smallholder farmers live on less than $2 per day and farms under 2ha produce 30-34% of the global food supply. Closing the $150 billion smallholder finance gap can enable smallholders to have access to appropriate and contextual financial services for investing in agricultural activities, inputs and services, and ultimately improve livelihoods. Funders and implementers can better understand and serve smallholders by leveraging the Lean Impact approach, inspired by the Lean Startup Framework. Deploying hypothesis-driven experiments that reduce risk and increase the pace of learning can disrupt methods of excessive planning and prevent costly interventions that may have low adoption. This event aims to stimulate discussion and learning among donors, investors and implementers on how we approach, design and fund solutions for smallholders.


  • Opening remarks
  • Introduction to Lean Impact by Ann Mei Chang
  • Panel discussion 
  • Q&A and closing remarks

This event is sponsored by MEDA, who is managing an innovation and learning portfolio focused on non-traditional finance models, products and services with potential for large-scale smallholder innovation adoption. The portfolio has 10 projects around the world (East and Southern Africa, South Asia and South America), and is part of a 3-year project funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC).

Meet Our Guest Speaker and Panelists

Guest Speaker: Ann Mei Chang

NOTE: Ann Mei will join us for opening remarks via video conference

Ann Mei Chang is a leading advocate for social innovation who brings together unique insights from her extensive work across the tech industry, nonprofits, and the US government. As Chief Innovation Officer at USAID, Ann Mei served as the first Executive Director of the US Global Development Lab, engaging the best practices for innovation from Silicon Valley to accelerate the impact and scale of solutions to the world’s most intractable challenges. She was previously the Chief Innovation Officer at Mercy Corps and served the US Department of State as Senior Advisor for Women and Technology in the Secretary's Office of Global Women’s Issues.

Prior to her pivot to the public and social sector, Ann Mei was a seasoned technology executive, with more than 20 years’ experience at such leading companies as Google, Apple, and Intuit, as well as at a range of startups. 

Learn more about Ann Mei's book here.  


Clara Yoon | Project Manager | MEDA

Clara's primary role at MEDA is managing INNOVATE, an IDRC-funded initiative focused on testing and learning about the intersection of non-traditional finance and innovation adoption by smallholders. Her areas of focus include women’s financial inclusion, digital finance, and ICT for development. She is an advocate for leveraging user-centered research and design to tackle today's pressing global development challenges. Clara holds a MA in Global Governance from the University of Waterloo and BA in Global Studies from Wilfrid Laurier University. She has prior experience in South Korea, working with a local human rights non-governmental organization that promotes and advocates for the North Korean human rights agenda.


Colin Christensen | Global Policy Director | One Acre Fund 

Colin has spent his career with organizations committed to innovative, impact-focused approaches to international development. For the past 4 years he led One Acre Fund’s engagement with their host governments, based from Rwanda. He has recently moved back to the DC area into a new role to make sure the needs of Africa’s small-holder farmers are addressed comprehensively in policy and funding conversations outside the continent.

Before One Acre Fund, Colin directed government relations for Bridge International Academies, which runs low-cost private schools in Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria and Liberia. He was also Country Director for Innovation for Poverty Action (IPA) in Kenya, which conducts rigorous impact evaluations of development projects to assess what actually works to alleviate poverty.

Rocío Pérez Ochoa | Co-Founder | Bidhaa Sasa

Rocío Pérez Ochoa co-founded Bidhaa Sasa (meaning Products Now in Swahili) in 2015 to focus primarily on solving distribution and financial bottlenecks that inhibit the adoption of new technologies by rural families in Kenya and other countries. Previously, Rocío ran the financial arm of BBOXX, a manufacturer, distributor and financier of solar systems that had subsidiaries in the UK, Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda. She has also consulted and acted as an angel investor in other green start-ups in emerging markets. Prior to becoming an entrepreneur she worked for the UK Government as climate change policy adviser and spent almost a decade working in the City of London in hedge funds (and now making up for it!).