Citi Microfinance and Citi Commercial Bank today announced US$2,000,000 in financing to support KickStart International, a non-profit social enterprise that designs, manufactures, and sells high quality, low-cost irrigation pumps for use by smallholder farmers across Sub-Saharan Africa. With support from the Skoll Foundation, the loan will be the first from Citi directed to the social enterprise sector and will specifically support smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa, where farm yields are among the lowest in the world.
According to The World Bank, 65 percent of Africa’s labor force is employed by the agriculture industry, yet farming accounts for only 32 percent of gross domestic product on the continent. 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 poor smallholder farmers buy and use to build profitable family enterprises.
The Citi financing will be used by KickStart as working capital to expand production and distribution of its human-powered water pumps, which enable poor farmers to irrigate throughout the year, help improve crop yields, and boost income for farming households.
“The financing arrangement with KickStart reinforces Citi’s commitment to identifying opportunities to address community-based challenges with inclusive business solutions,” said Bob Annibale, Global Director of Citi Microfinance and Community Development. “KickStart is a social enterprise that weds a purpose-driven mission with a scalable business model, and we are pleased to join the Skoll Foundation to support its growth plans.”“Citi Commercial Bank’s collaboration with KickStart is the latest example of how we aim to capitalize on our unparalleled global reach to help leading enterprises expand their operations and achieve their goals,” said Citi Commercial Bank New York City Division Head Daniel Greene. “KickStart employs an innovative and powerful model, and we are proud to support its efforts to promote entrepreneurship and create economic opportunity throughout Africa.”