John's Story From Homa Bay, Kenya

John KickStarts His Life

Gordon is a big man.  Kenyan and typical of these beautiful people; irrationally strong, incredibly persistent, always smiling with that big toothy grin seemingly embedded in the  Kenyan genes.  But, he was not always this specimen.  He was a small boy, age six when his father died.  As the eldest son he now was responsible for his mother and siblings, six in all.  His options were slim.  His mother helped find him a job as a cattle herder for another man's cattle, not an unusual situation for the poor with less than nothing, but a determined will to survive.

His family lived in a thatched roof hut.  They had some land, but no means to cultivate it, a shame given the richness of the black Kenyan soil of the Nyanza Province.  Years went by and little changed.  John worked long hours in the intense equatorial heat east of Lake Victoria.  Finally, with no vision of a future and now as a young man he has had enough.  Quiting, he went home to try to begin anew.  Then one day he saw a KickStart Money Maker pump and just like that he realized if he could get one maybe he could change his and his family's future.  Only he did not have enough money to buy the pump.  So, behind his Mother's back he sold the only possession they had, the family cow and bought the pump.  I laughed when he told me that he told his mother the cow was lost.

John is now 35 with a family of his own.  That is when I met him.  His transformation has been remarkable.  The pump allowed him to start a small Boda (motorbike taxi) washing business, loaning his pump out for 50 shillings a piece and washing up to 20 Bodas a day.  He then began to irrigate his rich land, planting enough crops, even in the dry season, to feed his extended family, sell some to his neighbors at a modest price and the balance in the informal market in Homa Bay.  He then built a home for his family and another for his mother.  He bought another cow, telling his mother he found the lost one.  The smile on his face said it all.  Life was good.  When I asked him what he was going to do next he responded with ease,"All of my children, six in all, were going to school and I am going to make sure they all go to the university."

The KickStart MoneyMaker pump created an opportunity for John and his family, but it was John's vision and work ethic that changed his future.  His example is a shining light, not unusual for Kenyans with a desire to have a better life than the one they inherited.  The Greater Impact Foundation is proud to support enterprises like KickStart, organizations changing the world for the better one person at a time.