Visiting with project staff:
We meet Regina (a KickStart staff person). She has just been recalled from leave to come and join us on the field trip to interview clients. Regina is full of energy and excitement. She ushers in to the board room and introduces our team to another lady seated in the board room. This lady is on the same mission just like us, carrying out an evaluation on behalf of Melinda and Bill Gates foundation.
Regina is quite calm, she tells us that evualutions are not a new thing to the organization and so the reason that she was very much at ease even when she was faced by two teams of evaluators for different organizations. I ask what the organization is all about, and she takes time to explain, both the evolution of the organization but zeros in on her pet subject, "Technology," and for this lady who is has the facts of her job on her finger tips, success revolves around the magic pump that has changed the lives of many rural farmers - the MONEY MAKER.
I ask how the organization utilizes donor funds, and she is quick to respond, developing the technology, marketing, and building the capacity of farmers, to understand and use the technology to improve their livelihoods and create employment.
"We do farm-to-farm demos which have proved to be a very practical and effective tool in building the capacity of farmers".
"You have worked for this organization. what would you say keeps your spirits up?" I ask.
"To see one successful farmer is satisfying enough." She gives an example of a farmer who started small with the first technology of the magic pump, MONEY MAKER, and who with time has now grown to become a financier to other farmers in the area. He has created employment to over 20 youth in the region.
"This pump has made a complete shift in the thinking of many youth who always looked at farming as a last option in career choices", says Regina.
So we leave for the field visit to a couple of farmers. They all tell the same story of how MY LIFE HAS CHANGED.
However we zero-in on a farmer whose life has taken an upward growth. Besides hard work, he actually believes that the machine was the beginning of his miracles and he can only thank God and Kick Start for how far he has come.
We meet Njenga Kimani, who runs a tree nursery business in Juja town along Thika road, he tells us that the business started small by a group of young people at the roadside, they had a small tree nursery. They bought their first pump at a cost of Ksh. 20,000.00. They had to pay for it in six installments before the distributor could release it to them for use. At the moment, he takes pride in a business that has grown from the roadside to a two-and-a-half acre piece of land, with 16 permanent employees and 12 casual laborers, both men and women. He introduces his new farming techniques, a car wash business, vegetable farming, fruit tree nurseries, flowers, and landscaping services. He is also providing small loans to women and youths who require capital to start business. I ask Njenga what he feels about KickStart.
In a few words, he says, "God should give them the resources to continue helping the less fortunate to get out of the circle of poverty."
Visiting with the director:
After our field trip, we get back to the offices of KickStart in upper market part of Nairobi. We had organised to a meeting with Mr. Nick Moon the co-founder and Managing Director of Kickstart.
Mr. moon invites us to his office which is quite simple, typical of a person who thinks that the shilling should got the furthest. Well poised and having a very good command of kiswahili, I get a bit nervous and he notices that. So to put my nerves to rest, he tells me that he has lived in Kenya for quite a while. His stay in Kenya, he clarifies, is longer than the age of over 50% of the population. I quickly work out my mathematics and realise that this guy has lived in kenya for over 25 years.
He takes me step by step through the genesis of this great organization, its growth process, the development of the technology, its strategic objectives, governance structures, and then settles down to what I believed was the pride of the organization - the magic technology called the "MONEY MAKER pump." For Nick, he has an additional achievement to take pride in, the M&E (monitoring and evaluation) department of the organization.
He talks passionately about the Pump and the impacts that it has made in the lives of many people. He just confirms what we had been told by the farmers visited and the field officers.
He takes pride in the organization having one of the best M&E programs that has been used as a case study by many.
If you want to meet an entrepreneur whose mission is not profits, but changing lives through simple technologies, then you need to meet Mr. Nick Moon of KickStart.Attachments: