KickStart is a non-profit social enterprise with a mission to take millions of people out of poverty quickly, cost-effectively, and sustainably, using a private-sector business model focused specifically on irrigation for small-scale farmers in Africa.
Eighty percent of the poor in Sub-Saharan Africa are rural farmers who live on small, low-productivity farms, grow insufficient food to properly feed their families, and earn just enough money to survive, but not enough to escape poverty. KickStart identifies profitable business opportunities open to these farmers, and then designs, manufactures, markets and sells simple tools to create profitable family farm enterprises that rely on irrigated rather than rain-fed agriculture.
Kickstart’s portable irrigation pumps enable farmers to pull water from shallow wells or surface sources using manual power, without the use of fuel. The pumps increase the acreage that can be planted year-round, while more efficiently using far less water than channel or flood irrigation methods. Irrigation enables farmers to grow multiple cycles of high-value crops throughout the year, generate higher yields, and harvest and sell crops in the long, dry, “hungry season” when prices are highest and spoilage related to market saturation is less likely. (Typically 50 percent of rain-fed crops are spoiled before they are eaten or sold.)
KickStart’s solutions address a number of interconnected problems simultaneously. They increase agricultural productivity, alleviate poverty (generating income to pay for many basic needs, including children’s education), reduce food wasted due to spoilage, and increase food security for rural African communities. Moreover, KickStart is using an innovative strategy (Mobile Layaway) that leverages mobile money technology to help farmers save for irrigation pumps using a convenient, low cost, and secure micro-payment service, and has plans to use farmer training to increase the efficacy of its programs.
KickStart is also focused on using fewer resources in the pumps themselves. The newest pump, the MoneyMakerMax (MMM) is 22 percent lighter, about 10 percent more water efficient, and more rust-resistant than its predecessor, and is designed so that twice as many pumps can fit into a shipping container, reducing resource use and costs associated with transportation.