Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Help the poor...

KickStart is a worthwhile non-profit organization with practical benefits. They develop and market new technologies in Africa and other poor countries around the world. These low-cost technologies are bought by local entrepreneurs and used to establish highly profitable new small businesses. They create new jobs and wealth, enabling the poor to climb out of their poverty forever. Here are a few examples of cheap tools that are helping the poor get richer (and the rich get redemption)...

The Action Pack Block Press

Four workers using this heavy duty manual press can produce 500 rock hard building blocks a day, compacting a soil/cement mixture under high mechanical pressure. The press is adjustable for use with almost any soil type and just 1 bag of cement makes over 100 bricks. Blocks can be sold profitably to build walls at half the cost of the concrete block or stone walls.

The Super MoneyMaker Pump

The Super MoneyMaker Pressure Pump was launched in October 1998, in response to a demand by farmers for a pump that can push water uphill as well as simply pulling it up from the source. This means it is suitable for use on steeply sloping land where the water source may be at the bottom.

The KickStart Oilseed Press

In 1992 the Kenyan government removed price controls on essential commodities and the price of cooking oil almost tripled in a few weeks. KickStart realized that the small-scale production and sale of cooking oil could be a very profitable small business opportunity if only the right technology was available to local entrepreneurs. The press extracts oil from sunflower, sesame, and other oil seeds. The filter produces clear, cold-pressed, nutritious cooking oil ready for sale or consumption. The seedcake by-product is valued as a high protein animal feed supplement.

The trendiness of Africa, of saving the world, of assuaging guilty feelings with cash, none of that matters. If a house is burning you do not debate the architectural merit of the property. You call the fire department, you turn on a hose, you get the kids away, you do what you can. If there must be something in it for you, then consider that the feeling of urgency, of taking action that matters and has a tangible effect, is the greatest high there is for us numb first worlders. It occurs to me that the opposite of urgency is not peace, it is over-stability. Apathy. Get agitated baby. It matches your inner-restlessness.


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