African Farmer carrying paddy

Affordable Irrigation to African Farmers

KickStart and VisionFund to Bring Affordable Irrigation to African Farmers

Agreement to provide technology, know-how and financing to boost incomes and help struggling families

NAIROBI, LONDON – 14 March, 2017 - Farmers in sub-Saharan Africa are set to benefit from a new partnership between World Vision’s microfinance arm, VisionFund International (VisionFund) and non-profit social enterprise, KickStart International (KickStart). The partners have signed a  Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to provide an integrated solution to enable farmers to access, purchase and implement irrigation systems.  With ambitious targets, the partnership anticipates 100,000 farmers (and 400,000 children) will benefit from greater access to water for their crops over the next five years.

Following a successful pilot in Zambia last year, where close to 3,000 irrigation pumps were financed, the two organisations are working together to provide small-holder farmers with financing for pump ownership in the countries where they work together in sub-Saharan Africa.  Significantly, it is the first time VisionFund has financed irrigation sytems as part of its holistic approach to poverty alleviation. 

Farmers can only harvest and sell crops once or twice per year, during rain-fed harvests.  When the rains fail, due to the unpredictable weather linked to climate change, they lose even these crops. While water is available to millions of small scale farmers in shallow wells, rivers and ponds on their farms, they often lack the means and know-how to extract the water and correctly distribute it to their crops.  Currently less than four percent of the farmland in sub-Saharan Africa is irrigated, compared to over 40 percent across Asia[1].

With irrigation, farmers can harvest crops throughout the year, including  during the long, dry ‘hungry’ seasons. They can feed their families and obtain higher prices for produce. Research by KickStart and others shows that farmers who irrigate increase their yields per acre by an average of 2.5 times and their net annual income per acre by on average three to five times. Additional income is spread across the year and enables farmers to better care for their families and take a major step out of poverty. Multiple studies of farmers using KickStart’s MoneyMaker pumps have found that the increased yields and incomes from irrigating have significant impacts on a family’s food security, health, household gender dynamics, ability to send children to school, purchase new assets and diversify incomes.

How the partnership will work

KickStart will establish a pump and parts distribution, supply and retail network. This network will ensure that the pumps and parts are available locally to farmers through retail shops at the village level. KickStart will train distributors, retailers and farmers themselves on the methods and benefits of irrigation, and the set-up and technical use of the pumps.

Although KickStart’s pump and hosepipes cost only $90 or $170 (depending on the model), many farming families across Africa live on as little as $50 to $100 per month and after paying for basic living expenses, it is challenging for them to save enough money to buy a pump.

In order to enable more farmers to buy the pumps, VisionFund will develop financing products and make them available through its network of MFIs. VisionFund adheres to strict client protection principles and thoroughly assesses each farmer’s business as well obtaining an understanding of their current financial status to protect against over-indebtedness and ensure the farmer is equipped to use the funds productively. 

Dr. Martin Fisher, Co-Founder and CEO, KickStart International explained, “Our partnership with VisionFund enables us to get pumps to more, and to poorer, farmers. Because of their increased year-round incomes, irrigation enables the farmers to easily repay pump acquisition loans within six to nine months. 

“VisionFund’s extensive network of African MFIs and focus on rural and agricultural communities means the lending distribution networks are already in areas we want to target and the farmers that will be in a position to benefit are known,” continued Dr. Fisher.

Scott Brown, VisionFund International’s President and CEO said, “Bringing irrigation to African small-holder farms is highly complementary to other agricultural programmes we help fund and enables us to offer our small-holder farmer clients an opportunity to become more productive and resilient.

“Our focus is primarily on improving the lives of children living in poverty. Families in rural areas often do not have access to suitable financial products and the opportunities that accompany them. We know that when farmers’ incomes increase, they are better able to provide for their families which means their children have better shelter, nutrition and go to school,” concluded Mr Brown.

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VisionFund International, World Vision’s microfinance arm, has been improving the lives of children in the developing world for more than a decade. By offering small loans and other financial services to families living in poverty, its clients develop successful businesses, enabling their children to grow up healthy and educated. In 2015, VisionFund International MFIs provided 1.3 million loans, with nearly three-quarters of these going to women, and over half to clients actively involved in farming. Repayment rates were 98%. Also in 2015, close to four million children were impacted through its MFI network located across more than 30 countries in Africa, Latin America, Asia, and Eastern Europe. For further information please visit



KickStart International is a non-profit social enterprise with a mission to lift millions of people in Africa out of poverty quickly, cost-effectively and sustainablyTo-date KickStart has distributed over 300,000 of its very low-cost, MoneyMaker branded, irrigation pumps to farmers across sub-Saharan Africa, resulting in significant increases in year-round household incomes and enabling families to take a major step out of poverty. Selling over 25,000 pumps per year, KickStart establishes private sector supply chains of importers, distributors and local retail shops that sell the pumps and spare parts.  It then partners with organisations, like VisionFund, that work with thousands of smallholder farmers, to provide financing and other complementary services. By leveraging such partnerships, KickStart has already enabled over one million people to have a dignified path out of poverty and plans to lift another million people out of poverty by 2021. For further information please visit



Jenna Rogers-Rafferty – KickStart International | +1 415 346 4820

PR Agency – Miranda Barham | +44 (0) 7899030304   


[1] Unesco Factsheet – Irrigated land as a percentage of cultivated land, 2008,