Winrock International is a recognized leader in U.S. and international development with a focus on social, agricultural and environmental issues. Inspired by its namesake Winthrop Rockefeller, Winrock combines scientific and technical expertise with entrepreneurial innovation to deliver market-based solutions that improve lives around the world. Winrock’s mission is to empower the disadvantaged, increase economic opportunity and sustain natural resources across the globe.

Winrock International grew from parallel dreams and a shared vision. And it grew from the land, a 927-acre tract atop Petit Jean Mountain in Arkansas, where Winthrop Rockefeller, grandson of Standard Oil’s John D. Rockefeller, established Winrock Farms in 1953. He brought in a herd of hardy Santa Gertrudis cattle from Texas and created a model farm and livestock center to demonstrate state-of-the-art agricultural methods.

Economic development was a hallmark of Rockefeller’s two terms as governor of Arkansas, and after his death in 1973, trustees of his estate created the Winrock International Research and Training Center to further his wish that the farm be “venturesome and innovative” and provide tools to help people help themselves.

While Winthrop was focusing on livestock research and rural development, his brother John D. Rockefeller III was concentrating on Asia’s burgeoning population and its food shortages. The organization he created — the Agricultural Development Council (A/D/C) — addressed these issues by identifying, educating and maintaining a network of homegrown experts, training Asian fellows in the U.S. and supporting U.S. professors who lived and worked in Asia — a unique approach that provided a deep understanding of local needs.

In 1985, these two organizations, along with a third — the International Agricultural Development Service (founded by the Rockefeller Foundation) — merged to form Winrock International. From Petit Jean Mountain, where the new nonprofit was based, experts fanned out across the state, nation and globe — expanding the market for small- and medium-size wood manufacturers in Arkansas, enhancing the production of goats in Haiti and embarking on many more projects at home and abroad.

Pairing international reach with a passion for local capacity-building proved a winning combination, as Winrock quickly became a leader in U.S. and international development. It helped to pioneer such projects as the acclaimed Farmer-to-Farmer program, which sends American volunteer agricultural experts to provide technical assistance to farmers around the world.  And with early board member Norman Borlaug, known as the father of the Green Revolution, it helped to establish the World Food Prize, which since 1987 has recognized people who have advanced the availability of food in the world. Winrock’s senior scientist Dr. Sandra Brown was honored for her contribution to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports for which IPCC and former U.S. Vice President Al Gore won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

A Global Presence

Winrock now maintains offices in Arlington, Virginia; Little Rock, Arkansas; Manila, Philippines; and Nairobi, Kenya. With more than 120 projects in 46 countries, the organization truly has a global presence. Yet domestic initiatives such as Innovate Arkansas, the Wallace Center and the American Carbon Registry demonstrate its continuing commitment to a strong U.S. portfolio. And while Winrock addresses such current concerns as economic development, energy and the environment, human and social capital and sustainable agriculture, it honors its roots with the JDR 3rd Scholars Program and other research initiatives. Decades of growth have not changed the Winrock mission; they have only increased its reach.

Some of our work in Nigeria

1. Expanding Clean Energy in Nigeria

Project Title: Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Project (REEEP)

Even though Nigeria is Africa’s largest exporter of crude oil and has some of the world’s largest natural gas reserves, over half of the country’s population lives in the dark. Access to energy and the many health and economic benefits it brings is particularly elusive in rural areas. This project aims to make clean energy more readily available through increased access to private sector finance. The project supports technical assistance for bank and project developers, and promotes policy changes that improve business conditions.


Funder: USAID

Project Start: 03/03/2014

Project End: 03/02/2018


2. Helping Small Nigerian Farmers Satisfy Consumers

Project Title: MARKETS II

The great majority of Nigerian farmers cultivate plots of land smaller than two hectares (about five acres). The goal of this program, part of the U.S. Government’s Feed the Future initiative, is to boost food security and the income of small farmers by encouraging them to respond to consumer demand; instead of farmers selling what they produce, they need to produce what they can sell. This market-driven mentality is accelerated through training, access to financing, seeds and fertilizer and improved collaboration among those in the agricultural value chain.