• Photo Credit: KickStart International

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Learn more about KickStart

1. Tell us about your mission.

KickStart International’s mission is to provide technology that enables millions of people in Africa to break the cycle of poverty quickly, cost-effectively and sustainably through smallholder irrigation. KickStart’s innovative, high-quality, and affordable technologies allow subsistence farmers to break their dependence on seasonal rain-fed farming, unlocking year-round harvests and a pathway to financial freedom, climate resilience, and social empowerment for farming families across Africa.

With KickStart’s MoneyMaker irrigation pumps, farmers can access available ground water, grow crops year-round to eat and sell for a better profit when food is scarce and market prices are higher. Farmers using KickStart’s pumps increase their annual income through irrigation alone by almost 500% on average—from $150 to $850. With the new money they earn, farmers can afford additional quality inputs for the next planting season and sustainably grow their farming business. Many go on to make additional investments in livestock and poultry, diversifying their income and securing their livelihoods. KickStart’s empowerment-based model enables farmers to earn significantly more income, properly feed and educate their children, afford healthcare, and plan for their futures.

2. How is the West Foundation supporting your mission?

The West Foundation is supporting KickStart’s advocacy efforts to catalyze the promotion and uptake of irrigation interventions across Africa through our work with diverse stakeholders to develop, test, and scale new high-impact irrigation solutions, and advocate for systems-level changes. Through our partnership with The West Foundation, KickStart leveraged our reputation as a leading provider of affordable irrigation technologies along with evidence of our direct livelihood impacts on farmers to spotlight this critical issue within the development sector and influential policy circles. This fosters an enabling environment for expanding small-scale irrigation across the continent by influencing global dialogue, policies, and investment strategies related to agricultural development.

3. Considering your impactful work to eliminate poverty, how is The West Foundation’s philanthropic support providing you with sustainability and mobility?

KickStart continued its Irrigate Africa! advocacy campaign with support of The West Foundation by employing our social impacts and urging influential international, continental and sub-national actors to increase irrigation access for the smallholder farmer. To highlight, the Malawi government endorsed MoneyMaker pumps as a highly reliable technology and KickStart was invited to help draft the Malawi Irrigation Investment Strategy. As proven by our country study of Malawi, with smart-subsidies, policy focus, and investments in support of a wide array of systems change, we can drastically increase large-scale uptake of low-volume irrigation technology across sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), enabling millions more to break the cycle of poverty.

With The West Foundation’s philanthropic support, KickStart participated in the AGRA Forum, where we successfully networked with ministers of agriculture from across SSA and representatives of the African Union. In addition, KickStart’s leadership team attended and demonstrated the use of MoneyMaker pumps during a main program session on irrigation at the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa Forum (AGRF), generating enthusiasm among influential policy makers to incorporate low-volume irrigation into their agriculture programs. Consequently, the World Bank continued its promotion of small-scale, farmer-led irrigation, by hosting a side event at Stockholm World Water Week and ordered thousands of MoneyMaker pumps for supported projects in Malawi, Angola, and Mozambique.

4. How are you realizing your potential? 

KickStart has scaled the adoption of MoneyMaker pumps and the resulting impacts by deepening and expanding our network of key partners across 16 countries in SSA, and increasing their appreciation for the benefits of irrigation. This partnership-based model has yielded exciting successes, lending new flexibility and increased reach to farmers in highly remote areas and to those experiencing newfound pressures due to social upheaval, political strife, and climatic changes.

KickStart has continued its efforts to build livelihood capacities at the grassroots level through the development and delivery of innovative technology and design. KickStart’s livelihoods interventions combine two critical commitments: income and food security. These two resources are essential for community resilience, providing the capacities to weather life’s unexpected challenges, from storm surges to civil conflict, and from drought to epidemics.

5. What’s one important thing you want others to know about your organization?

To date, KickStart’s smart irrigation pumps have enabled over 1.3 million people to take a major step out of poverty across Africa, and are being used to grow immune-supporting fruits and vegetables to meet the nutritional needs of 13 million people every year. Through year-round irrigation, KickStart’s tools have also led to the creation of 260,000 profitable and sustainable farming businesses, generating $220 million in new profits and wages annually.

With the support of organizations like The West Foundation, KickStart aims to provide 2 million people with the technology to take a major step out of poverty in half the time that we served 1 million people.

6. How can people reading this help you?

KickStart has helped eliminate poverty for farming families across the continent, but more work is needed to reach millions of others. The challenge is great, but every small gesture of support can make a difference.

Here’s how you can help:

  • Spread the word!
  • Donate
  • Partner with KickStart

Get the full details here: http://kickstart.org/get-involved

7. What are your deepest needs as an organization?

The Covid-19 pandemic has created a new context for KickStart and our vast network of farmers. In Africa, the virus is already exacerbating existing inequalities and cutting off critical livelihood supporting activities where food insecurity is already endemic. Providing tools that increase food production independently of climate and global supply chains will be critical to avoiding protracted famine. Despite the challenges, KickStart remains committed to protecting and growing local food production capacities and income generating opportunities for smallholder farmers across SSA through access to affordable, high-quality irrigation tools.

Given this outlook, KickStart is working strategically to fast-track our response mobilization through the design and distribution of the lowest-cost human-powered pump available, the Starter Pump—offering unprecedented and scalable affordability. By providing unprecedented financial access through our new Starter Pump and with extended reach through diverse mission-aligned partners, KickStart is better equipped to ensure year-round harvest, greater profits, and food security to more farming families than ever before. To learn more and support our response fund please visit: http://kickstart.org/

Learn more about Educate!

1. Tell us about your mission.

Educate!’s mission is to develop young leaders and entrepreneurs in Africa.

Nearly 50% of all Africans are younger than 18, and that number is growing. These demographics, along with a scarcity of jobs, have led to dramatic rates of youth unemployment. Education systems in Africa already face challenges — current curricula and teaching methods are designed for a 1900s economy, consisting of rote memorization and exam-driven learning which do not prepare students to succeed in today’s economy. The current status quo perpetuates lack of opportunity and cycles of poverty — allowing the enormous potential of youth to remain untapped.

Educate! believes that by transforming educational pathways in East Africa, we can equip youth with the skills to disrupt the systemic problem of youth unemployment and realize their full potential. We believe post-primary education is the most untapped resource across the continent for cultivating talent and for development more broadly, and we aim to work both within the existing educational infrastructure and outside of the system to impact youth life outcomes at scale.

Our mission therefore aims to prepare youth in Africa with the skills to succeed in today’s economy. We tackle youth unemployment by partnering with schools and governments to reform what schools teach and how they teach it, so that students in Africa have the skills to attain further education, overcome gender inequities, start businesses, get jobs, and drive development in their communities. Our goal is to make this practical, skills-based model part of national education systems across Africa.

2. How is The West Foundation supporting your mission?

Since our inception in 2009, Educate! has worked to build a replicable and cost-effective solution to prepare youth with the skills to attain further education, overcome gender inequities, start businesses, get jobs, and drive development in their communities. We started in 24 schools and reached 830 youth, and today, Educate! has dramatically scaled our program by nearly 40x and has directly impacted more than 100,000 secondary youth across 1,000 schools. This has been achieved over the years due to the support of partners like The West Foundation that have contributed to making us the largest youth skills provider in East Africa! Additionally, urging us on through our commitment to deepening our impact in Uganda, Rwanda, and Kenya, while expanding our reach to out-of-school youth for the first time and developing a strategy to support education reforms in other countries in the future.

3. Considering your impactful work to eliminate poverty, how is the West Foundation’s philanthropic support providing you with sustainability and mobility?

Educate! aims to design solutions that measurably impact millions of youth across Africa each year. Long term, we aim to fully incorporate our skills-based education model into national education systems across Africa. With the support of the West Foundation, we are able to experiment with different ways to sustainably and cost-effectively deliver and scale our evidence-based solutions as we grow towards that goal and position ourselves for greater and more sustainable impact each year.

The West Foundation’s philanthropic support goes further to aid project implementation, including training and empowering teachers and youth Mentors – who are at the core of delivering our model to Scholars. Through the Educate! Experience – our flagship program, Scholars are taught an entrepreneurship, leadership, and workforce readiness course, which includes practical experience starting a business or community project in each secondary school.

4. How are you realizing your potential?

Our impact philosophy relies on periodic, rigorous external evaluations to measure medium- and long-term outcomes, coupled with ongoing monitoring to continuously manage program quality and track immediate impact for students.

Rigorous evaluations of our solution, including a randomized controlled trial (RCT), found that participants earn nearly 2x the income of their peers towards the end of secondary school. A follow-up RCT in Uganda assessed medium-term outcomes for students four years after they graduated from the Educate! program. The evaluation looked at the same student cohort as the prior RCT and found strong impacts on: 1) soft skills—improved grit, creativity, and self-efficacy; 2) gender-related outcomes—less domestic violence, fewer sexual partners, fewer children, and more egalitarian views; and 3) educational attainment—increased secondary school completion, increased tertiary enrollment for women, and greater likelihood of selecting higher-earning-potential majors (business and STEM areas of study). Importantly, after Educate!, girls were essentially as likely to graduate from secondary school as boys.

5. What’s one important thing you want others to know about your organization?

Educate! prepares youth in Africa with the skills to succeed in today’s economy through an innovative model with proven impact. Our model is built on best scaling practices and constant self-evaluation and was specifically designed to scale having spent the last 10 years building the most replicable and cost-effective solution possible that can reach massive scale. We are now the largest youth skills provider in East Africa. We reach a large number of youth at a low cost by delivering our model using existing infrastructure, engaging exceptional Educate! graduates as mentors, and implementing innovative technologies to manage and monitor our programs across great distances. While doing this, we work hand-in-hand with governments towards system-level adoption of our solution to sustainably integrate our model into national education systems.

6. How can people reading this help you?

With over ten years of experience operating our flagship program in schools, we’ve tested, refined, and continually strengthened our model to ensure the maximum impact on youth – impact that is both cost-effective and sustainable. We’ve developed our capacity to provide technical advisory services and support to national education systems, actively working with the governments of three countries to facilitate practical, skills-based secondary education that prepares youth to succeed in today’s economy.

Incredible partners like the West Foundation and other friends and champions allow us to continue to work towards a world where all youth receive the skills they need to succeed in life after school. We so appreciate anyone who is able to invest in youth. Your support will propel us forward into our next decade of work. It’s especially critical now, when a lot is changing and amidst the uncertainty created by COVID-19, we see opportunities for adaptation and innovation.

7. What are your deepest needs as an organization?

Over next two years, Educate! is continuing to work towards our vision of measurably impacting millions of youth across Africa each year by (1) scaling our direct delivery model to drive towards our goal of achieving full scale in Uganda as we iterate for long-term sustainability, (2) continuing to build education system capacity to implement Rwanda’s Competency-Based Curriculum while testing innovative school sustainability and incentive strategies that can sustain the reform, and (3) deepening our government partnerships in Kenya to support the ongoing national curriculum reform, while experimenting with a new model that brings Educate!’s impact to out-of-school youth.

 

Uganda – Educate! Secondary school program – Soroti region

CoCoDA Febrero Fiesta

We are proud, at the West Foundation, of our commitment to supporting our partners in projects big and small. On February 26, the West Foundation joined CoCoDA for Febrero Fiesta in support of their water, public health and education projects in El Salvador and Nicaragua. The West Foundation team enjoyed a delicious meal, watched lively dance, and learned more about CoCoDA’s upcoming projects and initiatives.

Through its dedication to cooperating in projects for democratic, community-based social and economic development in Central America, CoCoDA seeks to build strong relationships and communities between people in the U.S., El Salvador, and Nicaragua. Receiving the second installment of a three-year, $21,000 flexible funding grant will assist CoCoDA in experimenting with new fundraising efforts and planning future programs. Learn more at CoCoDA.

CoCoDA Febrero Fiesta

We are proud, at the West Foundation, of our commitment to supporting our partners in projects big and small. On February 26, the West Foundation joined CoCoDA for Febrero Fiesta in support of their water, public health and education projects in El Salvador and Nicaragua. The West Foundation team enjoyed a delicious meal, watched lively dance, and learned more about CoCoDA’s upcoming projects and initiatives.

Through its dedication to cooperating in projects for democratic, community-based social and economic development in Central America, CoCoDA seeks to build strong relationships and communities between people in the U.S., El Salvador, and Nicaragua. Receiving the second installment of a three-year, $21,000 flexible funding grant will assist CoCoDA in experimenting with new fundraising efforts and planning future programs. Learn more at CoCoDA.

Hesperian Health Guides

Hesperian Health Guides, a constituent of the West Foundation for the past 16 years, has released its latest book in a series of health manuals designed to assist people with little access to medical services in the Global South. Health Actions for Women assists women in creating change in their communities by providing inspiring activities, strategies, and stories that help challenge violence against women, improve access to family planning, foster safe motherhood, promote strategies for better sexual health, counteract restrictive gender roles, and improve health services for women and girls. For more information, visit Hesperian at www.hesperian.org.

Goodweave Honored

Constituent organization Goodweave was recently honored when its founder, Kailash Satyarthi, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with youth activist Malala Yousafzai “for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.” Our congratulations to Mr. Satyarthi and Ms. Yousafzai for this recognition of their inspiring work.

Top ten recommended non-profits for donations to Nepalese Relief

Recently, TIME Magazine named constituent organizations MAP International and CARE International  as two of their top ten recommended non-profits for donations to Nepalese relief following the disastrous earthquake which hit the country on April 25. The West Foundation also endorses these organizations, as well as relief work being done by our other partners, International Development Exchange (IDEX) and READ Global. Each of these have strong representation on the ground in Nepal through indigenous non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and an excellent capacity for assisting relief efforts. Additionally, all have a sterling reputation for responsible use of funding. To give to one of these non-profits, click on Constituent Organizations to find a link to that organization’s website.

Building Tomorrow

On April 17, the foundation’s Indianapolis-based partner, Building Tomorrow, held its annual “Build a School Night” benefit. I was in attendance along with our program officer, Samantha Alarie-Leca, and was privileged to see this young organization move and motivate its audience to give not just the $90,000 goal set for the evening, but to exceed it by $60,000 for a grand total of $150,000. This included an unexpected pledge from a donor for $30,000 – the cost of building an entire school in Uganda. Never let it be said that Midwesterners have no interest in international causes! Many will roll their eyes when I confess that I was so overwhelmed by this impromptu act of generosity that tears came to my eyes – let them. It was a wonderful evening that will allow the organization to build six of the sixty schools it plans to generate in Uganda by 2020 to complete its Clinton Global Initiative pledge. Congratulations to the Building Tomorrow staff and its Chief Dreamer, George Srour, on a job well done!