After a twenty-one hour flight from San Francisco, and less than six hours sleep, I was up at 7:00am and heading North out of Nairobi towards Naivasha. Today was my first day in the field, visiting and talking with KickStart farmers and dealers. I was jet lagged but excited; though my colleagues Tamara and Regina had to keep nudging me to stay awake.
The earth is dark red here, the trees are emerald green, and the cabbages, which are grown everywhere this time of the year, are a pale murky blue-ish color. This is a truly beautiful land, with beautiful and strong people. The farmers we visited were amazing; many had over
two acres of land that they irrigated using a KickStart MoneyMaker pump.
They were growing a variety of vegetables; potatoes, cabbage and kale were what I saw most frequently. Many also had dairy cows that they had purchased with the profits from their irrigated crops. They were happy, their children were happy. All were in good health and their homes, whilst small by western standards, were clean and utilitarian. Many had already had their homes wired for electricity, even though it had yet to come to their villages. They were happy to speak with us, but as we finished they simply thanked us for our work, and got back to the business at hand, watering and harvesting their crops.
We visited a KickStart dealer outside of Naivasha, and got to see firsthand how the MoneyMaker pumps are marketed and sold. I took a photo of a poster advertising our newest sales initiative, mobile layaway “Tone Kwan Tone”, or “Piece by Piece” in Swahili. This will allow farmers to purchase the pump over a period of time by making incremental payments through the M-PESA service on their mobile phones; a first of its kind financing system, pioneered by KickStart. The sales people were kind and courteous, talking with us about the different pump models and sales initiatives and how they were being received by the customers. After talking with them, we grabbed a cold Coke from a street side shop, and were on our way.
As we headed back to Nairobi, I realized that this was the first time that I had really connected with the farmers that we work with. They are people just like me, not just a story, or a photo, but real people, living real lives, and I am helping make a difference in those lives. The weight of that thought sank in as we bounced along the highway, and I vowed to continue doing what I can to make a difference. Kids can go to school because of my work. People can eat a healthy meal because of my work. And it is my responsibility to continue to get their stories out there, continue to raise funding for this amazing program, and to continue to make sure that people understand that the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in Africa.
Cheers from Nairobi/San Francisco.
You can help us reach more farmers in Africa by making a donation now.
Genevieve Porter is a Development Associate for KickStart International. She is based in San Francisco. She travels often, loves that fact that in a former life she was an Aerospace Engineer, and always enjoys coming home to her City by the Bay. Follow her on Twitter at @AeroGenevieve and follow KickStart on Twitter @KickStart_Intl.
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