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The Movement to Kickstart Rural Agriculture

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In the front yard of his second home, Johnson Nduati takes a spin on his new motorcycle. His two young sons have just returned from private tutoring. His wife, Lucy, gently bounces their youngest daughter on her hip. This scene would seem ordinary, if one didn't know that the Nduati family live in rural Kenya. The Nduati family is part of a new class of rural farmers in Kenya -- the class who owns irrigation pumps.

Before his kids were born, Johnson met a Kickstart Sales Representative who convinced him to invest in a pump. He owned a very small patch of grass measuring only a few square feet, and was barely scraping by.

Because of his entrepreneurial spirit, Johnson learned how to grow vegetables year-round, so there's always something to harvest and sell. He now owns two pumps, three acres of land, and employs numerous neighbors.

The simple pumps pull water out hand-dug wells, so he never has to worry about drought. He now sells food in the market, and French beans exported to the UK twice per week. He bought the motorcycle so he could double the crates he could carry to market. His next goal is a truck, so he can carry forty crates, he predicts. His only regret, "I wish I bought a pump sooner."

Founded in 1991 by Martin Fisher and Nick Moon, Kickstart is a social enterprise working to systematically end poverty for thousands of people, by getting tools into the hands of entrepreneurs eager to start profitable businesses.

Kickstart's irrigation pumps can boost a farmers income by 1,000 percent. In sub-Saharan Africa, where 80 percent of the poor are small farmers, and 75 percent of their children go hungry, a tool like the best-selling MoneyMaker irrigation pump has a huge impact. Suddenly, farmers can feed their families and sell the surplus -- turning subsistence farming to a profitable business.

Kickstart has sold 174,610 pumps across Africa and 63,505 pumps in Kenya. Creating a new generation of "farmerpreneurs," Kickstart businesses have generated $113 million annually in new profits and wages, helping move over half a million people out of poverty.

Although the nonprofit's business-oriented approach to poverty alleviation has been generating buzz in the foundation world for over a decade, their success has been less known among the general public. The Adventure Project seeks to share the stories of entrepreneurs around the world who are transforming their lives and their communities through economic self-sufficiency.

With a current campaign supporting Kickstart, The Adventure Project is helping us all to think about the ways we can celebrate the success of farmers like Johnson Nduati. Inspired by a challenge from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to make a compelling case for small farmers as the solution to end hunger and poverty, The Adventure Project team created the "One to 1,000" challenge. The campaign challenge is to get 1,000 people to donate an About.me page by Tuesday promoting the cause of rural agriculture. It even has sponsors placing bets on whether the goal will be reached, to the tune of over $14,000 coming from The Prem Rawat Foundation, About.me, and a Tribe of supporters.

Ultimately the Gates challenge and One to 1,000 inspire us to think about how agriculture as a means of economic livelihood can be remarkably transformative for the world's poorest people. As Kickstart founder Martin Fisher explains, "the number one need of a poor person anywhere in the world is to have a way to make more money. It's not about education, heath care, or clean water, because if you find the way to make more money, you can afford to buy all these things."

Join the movement to inspire entrepreneurialism by creating your own About.me profile by this Tuesday.