Fighting Poverty in Kenya by Selling Water Pumps to Poor Farmers
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
JIM LEHRER: Next: A California man takes a business approach to
combating poverty in Africa.
“NewsHour” correspondent Spencer Michels reports.
SPENCER MICHELS: It’s a strange sight on the roof of a building in San
Francisco: Martin Fisher, the co-founder of a nonprofit called KickStart,
demonstrating a pump called the Super MoneyMaker that he developed for sale in
poor countries, mostly in Africa. It’s a device designed to make a big dent in
MARTIN FISHER, co-founder, KickStart International: It is cheap. It is
extremely robust. It won’t break down. It’s very lightweight. You can carry
it to the field. You can take the whole thing apart with your hands, put it
back together, because a farmer doesn’t even have a screwdriver in rural Africa.
SPENCER MICHELS: Even cheaper is a hip pump that KickStart also sells.
Fisher, a mechanical engineer by training and a former Fulbright Scholar, co-
founded KickStart 10 years ago, after discovering that large-scale rural water
projects and programs to give farm equipment to poor Africans, projects he
worked on, failed after a few years.
MARTIN FISHER: It’s not very cheap, because you have to set up a whole
distribution network to give things away. It completely kills local initiative.
It kills the local private sector. And people don’t really appreciate things
that they get given. They don’t use them fully.