2012 Winner

Martin Fisher

Co-founder and CEO, KickStart International

Fisher earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Cornell University in 1979, followed by a master’s and doctorate in mechanical design and theoretical and applied mechanics from Stanford University. While finishing his Ph.D., Fisher traveled to Peru to trek in the Andes and ponder his future. In South America he first encountered poverty in the developing world. He reflected on how the development of new technologies had advanced global societies and wondered if engineering could also play a critical role in solving global poverty. Answering this question became his life’s calling.

KickStart’s mission is to lift millions of people in Africa out of poverty, quickly, cost-effectively and sustainably. KickStart succeeds by designing, promoting and mass-marketing simple money-making tools that small-holder farmers buy and use to start highly profitable family enterprises. These new businesses create a sustainable solution to the rural poor’s most important need —a way to make more money—and enable the farmers to lift their families out of poverty.