Daily Video

July 14, 2010

Pump is ‘Money Maker’ for African Farmers

Martin Fisher had a vision ten years ago when he co-founded KickStart International, a Northern California nonprofit that develops water pumps for impoverished countries lacking sufficient water supplies. After working on numerous large-scale water projects that eventually failed, Fisher concluded smaller more efficient water pumps would benefit rural farmers trying to maintain plots of land.

His contraption, coined the Super Money Maker, is a stairmaster like water pump device. The name alone sounds like an infomercial gimmick, but Fisher asserts it does hold relevant meaning for the consumers who invest in his product.

“Their number-one need is a way to make more money. And, so, if you’re going to sell them a tool or piece of equipment, it has to be a moneymaking device. If we buy something, we’re going to make sure we use that thing, and especially when you’re very poor,” said Fisher a mechanical engineer and former Fulbright Scholar.

The idea of selling water pumps–KickStart also produces a water pump situated on the hip–to poor farmers has drawn criticism toward Fisher and his organization.

Still, in a country where only 4 percent of all farmland is irrigated, the Super Money Maker has caught on amongst rural African farmers. Fisher opened 450 retail shops in Kenya and plans further expansion throughout the continent.


“I went over to Africa as a socialist and — afterabout five or six years of hitting my head against the wall, became a small-Ccapitalist. And the thing is that it actually worked.” Martin Fisher, co-founder KickStart International

“If you go in and say, here’s a freebie, then people are going to say, sure. Give it to me. And when you leave, you know, who knows what happens to it. But if a farmer is given the opportunity to assess and then makes the decision to buy, I think that’s thereal proof that this is something that is beneficial to him.” Mark Bell, a professor of agriculture at UC-Davis

Warm Up Questions

1. On what continent is Kenya located?

2. What is a water pump?

Discussion Questions

1. According to the video, what element is crucial to the success of farm production in Africa and around the world?

2. Why has Martin Fisher received criticism for his Super Money Maker water pump? Do you think this is fair, why or why not?

3. Name three ways the Super Money Maker water pump is beneficial to farmers?

4. Would the Super Money Maker be a popular device for a farmer with a large piece of land in Florida? Why or why not?

5. What region of the United States might be deprived of water resources?

Additional Resources

Read video transcript

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In Nigeria, Scarce Water Supply and High Food Prices Leave Families Hungry

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