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/

Photo courtesy: KickStart