KickStart, Martin Fisher

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Martin Fisher, founder of KickStart, is offering the poor a way out of poverty. We summarize here some of his ideas. After a lot of trial and error, he learned this basic fact: what the poor need is to make money! His work became identifying profitable businesses that people can start with only a small amount of money. As a result, thousands of new businesses have been started and thousands of acres of farm land are being irrigated by his treadle points—just one of the profitable new businesses he inspired. These people are moving out of poverty. He sees this as leading to an entrepreneurial middle class in Africa.

The world, for the poor, has gone to a CASH economy! Gone are the days when you grew what you needed to eat, to make clothes and could build your own shelter—back then you did not need much cash. But now you do! Therefore, finding ways for the poor to get all the cash they need is the way to get them out of poverty. This is Fisher’s central theme. The agrarian crop cycle was not a good business model. All crops come in at same time, all farmers are selling at the same time—good for the middle man buyer, bad for the many small farmers. They needed other ways to earn money.

KickStart does two basic things: they identify profitable businesses the poor can get into for little investment. And, they make tools needed to start other businesses and sell them in affordable ways to the poor who will use them in starting businesses that require having tools. Along the way he learned that if you dig a well for the community, and put a pump in it, years later the pump will break and no one fixes it— because no one person owns it, so it is no one person’s responsibility. Ownership in common leads to this—no one person taking responsibility. Similarly, if people don’t have skin in the game, they don’t appreciate items given to them.

When people more than needed to survive, they buy a cow and earn even more money. They can send the kids to school. They can say good-bye to poverty and join the middle class.

Galvin, M.D., Iannotti, L. Social Enterprise and Development: The KickStart Model. Voluntas 26, 421–441 (2015) published January 17, 2014.