Africa’s Challenges
80% of the poor in Africa are small-scale farmers. Due to poor agricultural opportunities, the rural sectors of sub-Saharan African nations are hotbeds of extreme poverty.
Relying on the rain, farmers get only 1-2 harvests per year. The rest of the year, many farming families go hungry and fall back into poverty.
The highest rates of child mortality are still in sub-Saharan Africa—where 1 in 9 children dies before age five. 165 million children under 5 are stunted in their growth due to poor nutrition during the first 1,000 days of life.

Africa is a continent made up of small-scale farmers that cannot even feed themselves despite the fact that the majority of the population works in agriculture and the continent holds more than a quarter of the world’s arable land. This challenge contributes to rampant poverty, malnutrition in children and adults, and unfortunate, yet avoidable, health and education outcomes. With the population expected to double by 2050, the problem is only going to get worse unless we act now.

Currently, only 4% of farmland in sub-Saharan Africa is irrigated, which means the vast majority of farmers depend on the unreliable rains to grow their crops. With everyone planting and harvesting at the same time, farming families all end up attempting to sell their crops in over-saturated markets for low prices where supply is high, but demand is low. Up to 65% of the food grown in the rainy season therefore spoils before it is eaten or sold. Unfortunately, just months later, when the rains dry up, these same farming families are left with nothing to eat and without an income, keeping them stuck in a vicious cycle of hunger and poverty.

The tools farmers need to escape from their dependence on rainfall however, not only exist, they’re for sale. MoneyMaker irrigation pumps can break this cycle of subsistence farming and lift millions in Africa out of poverty.

The Solution
KickStart designs low-cost, high quality irrigation pumps for poor farmers in Africa.
Farmers make their own rain year-round and grow more crops—especially in the long, dry "hungry" season.
They start profitable businesses selling their crops, lifting themselves and their families out of poverty.

Over 40 million farmers across Africa who currently rely primarily on rainfall have the potential to access available ground water and lift themselves out of poverty with the power of irrigation. When farmers take control and are able to effectively manage renewable water resources, whether it be a hand-dug well, a pond, a river, or a stream, they grow high-value crops throughout the year and can sell when food is scarce and prices are higher – reducing both hunger and poverty, two of the greatest threats to Africa’s survival.


The name says it all: “MoneyMaker” branded irrigation pumps, designed, produced and sold by KickStart, enable farmers to make a lot more money. No more waiting for rain, no more hungry season.

Even in the presence of the many complications of poverty, the transition to irrigated farming alone has far-reaching impacts and sustainable benefits.

Increasing Incomes


While poor families have many urgent needs, their number one need is a way to make more money. Even the poorest subsistence farmers live in a cash economy and must use money to pay for basics from school fees to healthcare.

Farmers using MoneyMaker pumps start earning money year-round. With irrigation, crops can be harvested continuously throughout the year, especially when prices for crops are highest, instead of just once or twice per year.

MoneyMaker farmers smooth out their cash flow and increase their net income from irrigation alone by nearly 500%, on average. Steady income enables families to make additional investments like improved farm inputs for each subsequent planting season, and livestock to continue earning even more money.

With reliable income, families can address their remaining needs without aid—they can treat and prevent illnesses, afford to educate and feed their children, improve their living standards, and, by investing in these opportunities and others, escape the cycle of poverty.




Enabling Food Security


Sub-Saharan Africa presents the cruel irony of a continent full of farmers that cannot feed itself—one in every four people is starving, compared with one in eight worldwide. Currently, however, only 4% of farmland in sub-Saharan Africa is irrigated, which means there is great potential to change this picture.

When farms are irrigated, they can produce food in all seasons – not just when it rains. Even small-scale farmers with very little land can use irrigation to grow regularly, feed themselves, their families, their communities and, collectively, entire countries.

As farmers adopt irrigation technologies and produce more food all year long, the feast and famine cycle trapping Africa’s poor will be broken. If Africa reaches just 20% of farmland irrigated, the “hungry season” will become a thing of the past.



Empowering Women


Women represent about 70% of the agricultural workforce in sub-Saharan Africa. The little money these women earn on their subsistence farms hardly allows them to contribute to household financial needs, perpetuating women’s reliance on their husbands for financial support and holding them back from reaching their full potential.

KickStart’s irrigation technologies enable women to be more productive on their farms, start profitable businesses selling their crops, and significantly increase their income. By enabling women to generate income, KickStart is helping develop their economic potential, have a larger role in household decision-making, and become stronger leaders in their families and communities.



Increasing Resilience to Climate Change


For most small-scale farmers who depend on rainfall for their food and income, its increasing variability due to climate change is putting their very livelihoods at risk.

KickStart’s irrigation pumps enable farmers to manage water year-round without relying on natural weather patterns, making them more resilient in the face of the worsening effects of climate change. Farmers who adopt MoneyMaker pumps are empowered to withstand erratic rainy seasons and safeguard their crops against drought and other climatic emergencies.

Lessons Learned