How a Water Pump is Changing the Lives of Farmers in Africa
April 11, 2014 01:04 PM
An extended version of this article first appeared on Forbes.com as part of Citi'sVoice.
When your product is instrumental in creating 150,000 new businesses and increases its users' incomes by 500 percent, the world takes notice. But the product in question isn't an app or the latest digital device. KickStart, founded by Martin Fisher and Nick Moon, puts new irrigation technologies into the hands of local entrepreneurs in Africa.
Most small-scale farmers in Africa depend on rain -- an unreliable source of water for agriculture. In 1998, Fisher and Moon presented these farmers with an affordable solution: the MoneyMaker irrigation pump.
KickStart's MoneyMaker has given around 240,000 children the chance to attend school. It also generates approximately $130 million in annual profits and wages for its users.
These wins haven't come easily. One of the first hurdles is producing these hundreds of thousands of pumps so that the most farmers can take advantage of them.
In 2013, Citi's Microfinance and Commercial Bank divisions joined with the Skoll Foundation to lend KickStart $2 million in working capital.
Robert Annibale, global director of Citi Community Development and Finance, said cash injections of this kind are critical to helping organizations like KickStart grow effectively.
"One of the challenges, if you don't have the working credit -- the working cash flow -- is you're doing everything, especially in an advanced production, on a smaller order," he said.
He said working capital changes that equation.
"This helps free them up to be able to produce more and to distribute it much more widely," Annibale said.
That's enabling KickStart to change lives by putting the power of affordable, sustainable water-delivery to crops into the hands of small-farm owners throughout Kenya, Tanzania, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Zambia.