After hearing about the plight of Ugandan farmers at an international women's networking event in 2007, Alison Hall, an IBM marketing professional in the United Kingdom, decided to take action. With the support of two colleagues, she set up the charity Seeds for Development to lift Ugandan farmers out of poverty and support self–sustainability. She is a pioneer of a new model of supporting farmers by giving them risk free credit so they can purchase seeds and other agricultural needs. Seeds for Development works in partnership with a Ugandan seed producer and entrepreneur, Josephine Okot of Victoria Seeds Limited.
The model Hall created supports farmers in one of the poorest regions of the world and it's based on a simple process. Money for seeds is transferred to a farmers’ group bank account. The farmers purchase the seeds from Victoria Seeds. After the harvest, Victoria Seeds buys the seed crop from the farmers and deducts the value of the loan. The loan is recycled to support other farmers.
Hall runs all aspects of the charity from her home including fundraising, marketing, managing the finances, updating the website and keeping in touch with Uganda. She gives talks to groups and is constantly building awareness of the organization. She travelled to Uganda four times, at her own expense, to learn and understand the lives of the people she is helping.
IBM’s On Demand Community solutions, a strategic global online community that combines the skills of over 160,000 IBM employee and retiree volunteers with the power of access to innovative IBM technology, resources, training, and support, provided valuable information as Hall’s project took shape. She noted that Becoming a volunteer and Becoming an effective not–for–profit board member were particularly useful assets from the On Demand Community to understand the responsibilities and requirements involved in non–governmental organization work. She shared another asset designed to help Small and Medium-sized Enterprises called the SME Toolkit with her Ugandan partner, Josephine Okot, and she continues to offer her marketing and business support.