NICK MOON, Co-founder of KickStart International

Nick Moon Banner

“Our bottom line is the new incomes that we enable poor people in developing countries to earn. Measuring this is as important to us as measuring profits is to a for-profit company.”

An accomplished master of practically transforming poverty into abundance, at an early age Nick Moon dropped out of school to learn woodworking. “At some point I determined that artisans, people doing work with their own hands, were the real aristocrats of society.” Eventually through varied community fieldwork as well as higher education, he acquired the insight and ability to transform the traditional role of charitable organisations into empowerment activism:  the transfer of sustainable entrepreneurship into the hands of those most in need.

After years gaining skills on construction sites throughout Europe, Nick later became a professional cabinet-maker and carpenter, also specializing in the restoration of Georgian buildings.  Building recording studios in Nigeria and Togo offered his first intensive contact with Africa. Then in 1982 he joined the British VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas − an agency similar to the US Peace Corps) and accepted a post in a small rural community in Western Kenya, where he set up a ‘village polytechnic’ training school and ran it for two years. During this time he learned Swahili and plenty about how the world was viewed by his new friends and neighbours − small-scale farmers.  Becoming disillusioned as many small businesses launched with donation-based funding soon crumbled, Nick, together with Martin Fisher, co-founder of KickStart, began to observe that the most lasting support comes from individuals investing − taking risk − in their own businesses, rather than simply receiving charity.  The so-called “classical” development system often proves destructive over time by creating dependency and competing with local enterprises: “Treating people as consumers will not give them additional income! What we are doing is giving people the opportunity to increase their income so that they have the purchasing power to convert their basic needs into market demands. Wealth creation is much more important than offering refined products.”

Recognizing the water pump as a basic yet integral technology − high demand, low-cost, high impact – Moon and Fisher decided to re-create the model and offer very poor African farmers the opportunity to invest in their own success, founding the non-profit ApproTEC (1991) which would become KickStart (2005).  Their mission to promote sustainable economic growth and employment creation has evolved into “systematic approach to the end of poverty” (, bringing radical improvements across most areas of the farmers’ lives.  As of April 1, 2013, the organisation has lifted 718,000 people from poverty and helped create 143,00 new businesses, focusing mainly on irrigation technologies. “It is the greatest feeling when some of our customers tell us that they were able to send their kids to school or university because of the investment in our pump.” Through KickStart, today Nick remains deeply involved in providing people with the tools to grow their own businesses – and, in turn, their communities.

Additional quotes

“Our guiding principle is to provide the greatest good for the largest number of people in the shortest time and at the least cost.”

“Poverty alleviation, lightening the load that poor people carry, is not enough. That is merely a social service. KickStart is about creating wealth at the bottom of society’s pyramid.”

About KickStart International

As of April 1, 2013, the organisation has lifted 718,000 people from poverty and helped create 143,00 new businesses, focusing mainly on irrigation technologies.


Country:  Kenya

Type of Education: MBA, Durham University (2002);  Fellow of the Royal Society for the Advancement of Arts Commerce and Manufactures (2004)

Awards: TIME Magazine’s European Hero award (2003); Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship (2005); Schwab Foundation’s Social Entrepreneur of the Year” award; and the Beacon Prize for Creative Giving (2003).

Foundation Affiliation: Schwab; Skoll

Pathway to Impact: Path of Concern; Path of Effect

Impact Area/s: Security - Secure resource access; Basic material needs - Adequate livelihood, Sufficient nutritious food, Access to goods; Social relations - Ability to Help Others; Freedom of choice and action

Organisation Type: Non-profit Organisation / Social Enterprise

Facts and Figures: As of April 1, 2013, KickStart International has helped 718,000 people out of poverty and created 143,000 new businesses


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About the author Charles Blass

Charles is a media advisor with experience as a copy writer, journalist, broadcaster and content developer. Charles founded Lovevolv Inc, a non-profit arts and education company, and co-founded the LiveWired music network. Current activities include editing digital media and business writings, teaching English, mind-mapping, and producing two Zurich-based radio programs. See

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