The First Mile team is made up of three people working in Malawi and Zambia, passionate about finding out what it takes to make agricultural markets work better for smallholder farmers.

We are:

Thulasy Balasubramaniam is a chemical engineer/oil field hack turned development –  international, agricultural, private sector, and organizational – enthusiast.  She’s been working in Zambia since August 2007 on various projects that are trying to connect small scale farmers to agricultural markets.  She likes having fun with great people, thinking about interesting and actionable ideas, and eating cheese she bought on sale.

Hans Hesse became an engineer to learn more about how the world works only to find that he learned more in the field in Malawi than in the lab.  His work overseas started with the PROFIT project, where he worked to promote new business models to connect agro-input businesses to smallholder farmers.  Now he’s focused on the Chiansi Irrigation Project, which is testing out an innovative way of bringing smallholders into commercial agriculture.

Graham Lettner is from Fairview, Alberta, a small prairie town.  He works in Malawi with TreeCrops, a company that buys baobab fruit from small farmers for export to the EU. Feel free to write him at



Working to include smallholder farmers in agricultural markets, we know there are no easy answers. This blog is a place to ask "What does it take to make it work?" and to share what we're seeing and learning.
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Twitter (Graham)

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