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KickStart International is an award-winning nonprofit social enterprise that designs and mass-markets manually-powered irrigation pumps to poor rural farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. KickStart uses donor funds to design the pumps, establish the supply chains, demonstrate and promote the pumps, and educate farmers about the benefits and methods of irrigation.
KickStart is a non-profit organization specializing in irrigation technology targeted to improve the harvests of sub-Saharan Africa’s impoverished smallholder farmers. When it comes to food supply, Africa faces enormous instability due to unpredictable climate and water reserves. Only 6% of Africa's cultivated land is irrigated, limiting the volume of crops that can be grown out of season, but increased access to irrigation systems stands to increase food productivity by up to 50%.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations believes that locally produced low-cost treadle pumps could boost security in the region. KickStart’s strategy is aligned with this philosophy as the organization designs and sells durable yet affordable “MoneyMaker” branded irrigation pumps. Starting in 1998, KickStart began developing this line of manually operated irrigation pumps which allow farmers to easily pull water from a river, pond, or shallow well, and pressurize it through a hose pipe to reach their crops. The MoneyMaker Max, for example, can pressurize water to a total height of 50 feet, pushing it through a hose pipe as far as 200 m, and can irrigate as much as two acres of land. The low-cost ($70 and $150) pumps are purchased by poor farmers who use them to irrigate their plots, enabling them to move from rain-fed subsistence farming to year-round commercial irrigated agriculture.