KickStart was founded by Martin Fisher and Nick Moon to design tools that would enable Africa’s poor to launch and sustain profitable businesses. Its first product was a line of manually operated irrigation pumps—branded “MoneyMaker Pumps”—that would help subsistence farmers transform their farms into profitable family businesses.
When KickStart was ready to launch its MoneyMaker pumps, it faced the challenge of how to effectively reach and market the products to target consumers in Kenya, Tanzania, and Mali. In these regions, average farmers and their families are physically isolated, living miles from the nearest road without an address or electricity. Because they have few resources, most farmers are traditionally risk-averse consumers. Purchasing a KickStart product may be the most expensive purchase they will ever make (often a quarter of a family’s annual income). If that large investment were to fail, a family could starve for months. Moreover, many farmers understand little about pump technology and there are few if any existing channels to educate them about the benefits of KickStart products. The majority of farmers are not fully literate and many have no telephone. Some may have radios but they are only able to listen when they have enough money for batteries. Cultural norms in some areas also prevent the use of word-of-mouth sales and “viral marketing,” as East Africans are traditionally modest. This mini-case study explores how KickStart overcame these hurdles to successfully drive adoption of its products.
This story is part of the Global Health Innovation Insight Series developed at Stanford University to shed light on the challenges that global health innovators face as they seek to develop and implement new products and services that address needs in resource-constrained settings.
Acknowledgements: This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health grant 1 RC4 TW008781-01.