KickStart International

SUMMARY: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.

KickStart was founded to take on poverty by giving people a way to increase their income. Our approach is simple, and in its simplicity, revolutionary. We create tools that people can buy and use to create a profitable business for themselves. Our best known tools are our MoneyMaker irrigation pumps. These human-powered pumps allow small scale farmers to grow high-value crops year-round and move from subsistence farming to commercial agriculture. We use a private-sector supply chain of factories, wholesalers, and retailers because as for-profit businesses, they are naturally sustainable as long as there is demand for the product. When we began in 1991, the notion of selling something to the poor and the idea of using business models to address poverty was considered heresy. Today, this kind of thinking is celebrated as social entrepreneurship. To date, KickStart has helped over 338,000 people escape poverty forever. It is a remarkable achievement but there is more to be done.

PROBLEM SPACE: 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 into aid programs in Africa, yet poverty is deeper and more widespread as a result of these efforts. AIDS, corruption, famine, disease, war, lack of education—these, we are told, are the reasons for poverty in Africa. But these are the symptoms of poverty, not the cause. Strip away the rhetoric and you are left with a simple truth: the cause of poverty is not having money, and the cause of not having money is not having a way to earn money. To end poverty we must address this fact.

SOLUTION: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.

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.

CONTACT: [email protected]