KickStart International

KickStart International is an award-winning nonprofit social enterprise that designs and mass-markets manually-powered rural farmers in sub-Saharan Africa . KickStart uses donor funds to design the pumps, establish the supply chains, demonstrate and promote the pumps, and educate farmers about the benefits and methods of irrigation. [1]


KickStart is a non-profit organization specializing in irrigation technology targeted to improve the harvests of sub-Saharan Africa’s impoverished smallholder farmers. When it comes to food supply, Africa faces enormous uncertainty and unpredictable climate and water reserves. [2] Only 6% of Africa’s cultivated land is irrigated, limiting the volume of crops that can be grown, but increased access to irrigation systems to increase food productivity by up to 50%. [3]

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations believes that the production of low-cost cities could boost security in the region. [4] KickStart’s strategy is aligned with this philosophy and the organization and sells durable yet affordable “MoneyMaker” branded irrigation pumps. Beginning in 1998, KickStart is starting to draw a line of water from a river, pond, or shallow well, and pressurize it through a hose pipe to reach their crops. The MoneyMaker Max, for example, can pressurize water to a total height of 50 feet, pushing through 200 meters of pipe, and can irrigate as much as two acres of land. [5]The low-cost ($ 70 and $ 150) pumps are available to farmers to support their plots, enabling them to move from rain-fed subsistence farming to commercial year-round irrigated farming. [6]

KickStart sells the pumps instead of giving them away Co-Founder Martin Fisher believes it’s a local initiative and it’s not enough. [7] Instead, Fisher believes selling the pumps promotes entrepreneurship instead of dependence. [8]

KickStart has offices in Kenya , Tanzania , Zambia , and Ghana , but works in 18 countries throughout Africa through partner organizations. [9]


KickStart was founded in 1991 by Dr. Martin Fisher and Nick Moon. Fisher first went to Kenya on a Fulbright Fellowship to study the Appropriate Technology Movement . Moon went to Kenya as part of the Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) the British equivalent of the United States Peace Corps . The project is one of a number of years of operation, and has been working on multiple types of rural water systems, building schools, and creating job training programs.

Out of the frustration of traditional development, Fisher and the Moon, a new model to create a new way to help people escape poverty. [10] Together, they found they had learned in 1991, they found ApproTEC, which in 2005 became KickStart International. Their model was based on a five-step process to develop, launch and promote simple money-making tools that poor entrepreneurs could use to create their own profitable businesses. [11] [12]


Since 1991, over 220,000 successful new businesses have been started using KickStart’s tools (as of November 2016) – with more than 800 new businesses being created each month. [13]

KickStart’s Rigorous and systematic approach to impact assessment HAS proven the impact of Their irrigation tools are smallholder farmers and Their families. [14] [15] The Pumps Increase Farm Incomes Through Irrigation by 500% on average, helping move 1.1 million people out of poverty (as of November 2016). [16] KickStart has sold more than 290,000 pumps to date (as of November 2016) across the developing nations of Africa. The impacts have been particularly transformative for women and children. [17] Additionally, KickStart’s model is being studied to inform social enterprise’s contributions to international development. [18] [19]


Among the many awards received: Schwab Foundation’s Outstanding Social Entrepreneurs (2003), [20] US State Department’s “Innovation Award for the Empowerment of Women and Girls” (2012), [21] Forbes Magazine’s Impact 30 List – World’s Leading Social Entrepreneurs ( 2011), [22] Lemelson-MIT Award for Sustainability (2008), Social Capitalist Award Fast Company Magazine & the Monitor Group (2008), [23] Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship (2005), [24] Gleitsman Award of Achievement ( 2008), 2003). [25]


  1. Jump up^ KickStart – About Us
  2. Jump up^ What Is the Potential Irrigation for Africa? A Combined Biophysical and Socioeconomic ApproachInternational Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) 2010
  3. Jump up^ Africa’s innovations: 15 ideas helping to transform a continent.
  4. Jump up^ Needed by African farmers: Simple water pumps. United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization
  5. Jump up^ Michael D. Galvin, Lora Iannotti. (2015) Social Enterprise and Development: The KickStart Model. VOLUNTAS: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations 26421-441. Online publication date: 1-Apr-2015.
  6. Jump up^ Africa’s Coming Revolution. Isabel Coleman. August 8, 2012.
  7. Jump up^ PBS. Fighting Poverty in Kenya by Selling Water Pumps to Poor Farmers.
  8. Jump up^ Africa’s Coming Revolution. Isabel Coleman. August 8, 2012.
  9. Jump up^ KickStart Annual Report
  10. Jump up^ The New Heroes.
  11. Jump up^ Africa can feed the world.
  12. Jump up^ KickStart – What We Do.
  13. Jump up^ Episode 19 Interview with Martin Fisher, co-founder of KickStart International.
  14. Jump up^ Fisher, M. (2006). Kenyan farmers transition to a cash economy. innovations, 1 (1), 9-30.
  15. Jump up^ Fisher, M., Moon, Nick. (2005). Kickstart International IV: Measuring Impact. Global Health Innovation Series.
  16. Jump up^ The Simple Water Pump That’s Changing Lives Across the World.
  17. Jump up^ Changing the Game for Female Farmers. Dr. Beatrice Sawa.
  18. Jump up^ How A Water Pump Is Changing The Lives Of Farmers In Africa. James O’Brien.
  19. Jump up^ Michael D. Galvin, Lora Iannotti. (2015) Social Enterprise and Development: The KickStart Model. VOLUNTAS: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations 26421-441. Online publication date: 1-Apr-2015.
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