KickStart International—The Tools to Fight Poverty
KickStart’s mission is to get millions of people out of poverty quickly, permanently and cost-effectively, and in the process, to change how the world fights poverty.Over 1 billion people live in grinding poverty. The majority of these are poor rural farmers trying to eke out an existence. These are the people we serve. The challenge we face is neither the scope nor depth of poverty, but the entrenched, approach to global poverty. Over the past 40 years, the West has pumped billions of dollars
Describe the critical need your solution addresses.
KickStart was founded to create real, lasting, and measurable change in individual wealth. We actually visit a random sample of pump buyers soon after they purchase their pump and again 18 and 36 months later. We collect information about earnings attributable to our pumps. As of September 2008:
• Over 70,000 profitable enterprises have been created using KickStart’s pumps (about 800 new businesses per month)
• Farmers see, on average, a ten-fold increase in net farm income
• Together these business are generating $77 million in new profits and wages each year
• In Kenya alone, our farmers are generating total revenues equal to 0.6% of GDP
• Assuming that these businesses support a family of five, KickStart has helped over 338,000 people start on an upward spiral of prosperity.
• It costs KickStart $300 to get a family out of poverty forever.
Between FY09 and FY 11 we plan to help 460,000 more people escape poverty.
Our sole focus is increasing cash income. There are secondary benefits that follow. For instance, we know that 110,000 children have been enrolled in school because their parents could afford school fees.
This is clear--with sufficient cash, a family can meet all its needs without waiting for handouts.
Beyond the prestige of this award, KickStart would use the $100,000 prize as growth capital, investing in infrastructure needed to increase the number of people we take out of poverty each year. Our growth plan focuses on what we call the "Five Rights," the elements we need to have strongly and correctly in place for successful growth: Money, People, Systems, Products, and Message.
In FY 09, we plan to help 108,000 people escape poverty forever. In FY 10, we expect that to grow to 150,000, and will continue to grow each year after.
Explain your initiative in more depth and its stage of development.
KickStart is truly a trimtab—addressing the root cause of poverty and massive market failure, creates a solution to poverty that works at the micro (individual) and macro (systemic) level.
Our pumps are often the focus of attention, but our tools are just one part of a comprehensive five-step model. By solving the problem of a lack of income, we create multiple solutions—access to food, education, healthcare, clean water, etc.
We've proven that our model is scalable, growing from Kenya to Tanzania, Mali, and Burkina Faso. We measure our results and our work has been verified by external evaluations.
Our solution draws on abundant, renewable resources—entrepreneurial sprit and human power, and encourage poor farmers to be good stewards of their land, investing in soil fertility and increasing the production of each acre. Since our pumps are human powered, there is a built-in incentive to use water wisely.
How does your strategy and approach respond creatively and comprehensively to key issues?
Nick Moon and Martin Fisher were veterans of traditional aid efforts in Africa who grew frustrated at the lack of lasting impact created by flawed interventions.
Martin brought his knowledge as an engineer, and Nick brought his experience as entrepreneur and student of African history, culture and language to this process. A rigorous assessment of the failures of the development industry led them to some fundamental truths about cause and nature of poverty. These became the foundation and framework for ApproTEC, which became KickStart.
Initially derided for their radical approach, they held true to their vision and we have seen the sector begin to embrace the principles they outlined.
KickStart has grown over the years expanding from one country to four. We have now assembled a team of experienced specialists and are poised for our next phase of growth.
Over the years, Martin, Nick and KickStart have received many awards for their innovation. Notable awards include:
Lemelson-MIT Award for Sustainability (2008)
Drucker Award for Nonprofit Innovation (2008)
Engineer of the Year (Design News Magazine) (2008)
Fast Company Social Capitalist Award, (2005—2008)
The Tech Museum Award for Economic Development (2002)
The Beacon Prize (UK) (2003)
TIME European Heroes (2003)