With a desire to help people help themselves, Martin Fisher co-founded and is CEO of Kickstart, an organization whose mission is to get millions of people out of poverty quickly, cost-effectively and sustainably.
Martin Fisher, an engineer, inventor and social entrepreneur, went to Kenya on a Fulbright Scholarship in the late 1980’s, and stayed there for 17 years, working in various social work organizations. Realizing that just like anyone, the number one need of poor families in Africa is “a way to make more money,” Fisher, and his co-founder Nick Moon, developed a new model for fighting global poverty – Kickstart.
By bringing together the entrepreneurial spirit of the poor, innovative tools and technologies, and the power of the marketplace, they developed a cost effective and sustainable way to help families lift themselves out of poverty. They started to design affordable moneymaking tools and mass-market them to the poor, who in turn bought the equipment and used it to establish highly profitable family businesses. As of February 2012, KickStart has helped create 128,400 enterprises in Africa, sold 198,292 irrigation pumps to farmers and moved 641,800 people out of poverty.
Fisher has won numerous awards and recognition for his inventions and work as a social entrepreneur, including the IDEA Design Gold Medal, TIME Magazine’s 2003 European Hero award, 2005 Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship, and the Schwab Foundation’s “2003 Social Entrepreneur of the Year” award.
In 2008 he was named Engineer of the Year by Design News magazine. Also in 2008, he received the prestigious $100,000 “Lemelson-MIT Award for Sustainability” for his achievements in transforming the lives of hundreds of thousands of poor Africans though invention and innovation.