Martin Fisher

CEO & Co-Founder, KickStart International

San Francisco, CA, United States

Martin Fisher is the co-founder and CEO of KickStart International. The son of a physics professor, Martin was born in London and grew up in New York in the US. He studied engineering at Cornell University and after an MSc and PhD at Stanford University he took a year off to go to Kenya on a Fulbright Fellowship to study the impacts of appropriate technologies on poverty. He stayed for 17 years. He joined ActionAid where he established a large rural water program, promoted animal traction and built dozens of primary schools. He later led the installation of ~100,000 pit latrines in refugee camps. In 1991, Martin co-founded ApproTEC (which became KickStart) a non-profit social enterprise with a mission to enable millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa to earn a lot more money and climb out of poverty. As a pioneer in proving how simple business models and technologies can be used to fight poverty, Martin has designed and promoted multiple ‘money-making’ tools for small-scale enterprises including a soil-block press that has been used to build almost a million low-cost rooms. Since 2000, KickStart has widely promoted small-scale irrigation, and their unique, pumps have enabled >390,000 smallholder farming families to transition from rain-fed to irrigated farming and over 1.5 million women, men and children to climb out of poverty and adapt to climate change. KickStart’s pumps, are sold in 17 African countries through private-sector supply chains, and KickStart works with hundreds of development agencies to reach and educate farmers, and advocate for system changes to promote irrigation. Amongst multiple awards, Martin and KickStart have been named Skoll and Schwab Social Entrepreneurs, Time Magazine European Heros and Stanford Engineering Heros. Martin has spoken at multiple international and academic venues and in his spare time, he is an avid hiker, biker and explorer.