Picture Martin Fisher as a child, tinkering in the basement of his home, taking things apart and putting them back together in a new and more efficient way – an inventor and innovator from his youngest days.
Fast forward to 1991, to where Martin’s early tinkering led -- he and his business partner, Nick Moon, were developing simple tools designed to help poor entrepreneurs create their own profitable businesses. ApproTEC, the non-profit, would become KickStart International in 2005.
KickStart’s mission is to lift millions of people in Africa out of poverty, quickly, cost-effectively and sustainably by giving them access to simple moneymaking tools which small-holder farmers buy and use to start profitable family enterprises.
“If they have a way to make more money, they can not only feed themselves, educate their kids, pay for health care…they can do what they want with their lives and fulfill their dreams,” says Martin.
Martin first found his calling as a social entrepreneur on a trek in the Peruvian Andes. There, he witnessed third-world poverty up close and realized that poverty could be the world’s greatest engineering challenge. As an engineer, he believed that the right technology could change the lives of millions of people. So Martin stepped up to the plate.
“When 80% of the people are poor, all you do is put out opportunities and they’ll do the rest and lift themselves and their families out of poverty.”
Martin believes simple tools, like the popular water pump he developed, allow third world entrepreneurs to start small-scale enterprises with as little as $100 and play a dynamic role in the economies of their countries.
KickStart’s technologies, expertise, and methods are now widely applied throughout Africa to support programs in agriculture, shelter, water, sanitation, health, and relief.
Since 1991, 160,000 successful new businesses have been started in Africa using Martin’s inventions and more than 800 new businesses are being created each month. Since each of these enterprises supports a family, KickStart conservatively estimates that more than 800,000 people have already been lifted out of poverty – thanks to a little boy with a big imagination tinkering in the basement.