Innovations and Innovators: Using Agricultural Technologies to Empower Women
PEDRO SANCHEZ: (In progress.) I was -- I joined Columbia University to start agriculture there, tropical agriculture -- interesting thing for a major urban university to do. And then Secretary -- U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan asked Jeff Sachs to make a business plan on how to accomplish the millennium develop goals. That was finished in 2005, and I co-chaired the Hunger Task Force with M.S. Swaminathan and many other -- well, a very good group of people. And like other task forces on water and sanitation and so on, we came out with our reports.
And very shortly around that time Kofi Annan then made a call for a -- for a unique -- uniquely African green revolution for the 21st century, rightly saying that the green revolution of the '60s and the '70s with its plusses and its minuses, didn't reach Africa significantly. And indeed, Africa is -- sub-Saharan Africa -- is still averaging one ton per hectare of maize yields and the equivalent in other cereals and root crops and so on, as opposed to three in Latin America, South Asia and the Middle East, five in China and 10 in the U.S. and Europe. So give you an idea from one to 10 where we are roughly.
So that's -- that was part of the great hunger, but I came out from one of those trips and I mentioned to Jeff that my wife and I had decided to put some of this prize money and make a millennium village. And this is private, and Jeff said no way. This is -- (laughs) -- this is a great idea. And now we are working in 80 -- 8-0 -- millennium villages located in 14 clusters in the main agri-ecological zones and farming systems where hunger is -- malnutrition is major.
We started pretty much in 2005. Some of them have come later. But roughly, essentially about 78 percent of the villagers are -- experiences yields of three tons per hectare or more. There's always this 20 percent that falls through the cracks that really need a different safety net.
Stunting has decreased by about 50 percent, stunting of children under 2. In the first three years of the project some nutritionists consider this amazing, unbelievable, and so on, but it continues -- it continues to happen. Malaria through the bednets programs and clinics has also gone down tremendously to the point that some villages are talking in the past tense; when we had malaria. Everybody has access to water, to relatively, not 100 percent pure, but pretty pure water source to drink within a kilometer of their house.
And with our partners, most kids are in -- are learning computer science and taking advantage of the cellphone revolution. And essentially all children are in the primary schools because of a school meals program, which was part of the deal, providing subsidized fertilizer and hybrid maize seeds to the farmers, and they -- in turn, they had to return 10 or 20 percent of the their crop back to their own schools for their own children so they could have school meals. And that brought the girls in, which may -- a lot of them were staying home, but now there was no excuse for mom to say no, you have to stay home if they're going to get a good school meals, and the quality of the schooling has improved tremendously.
There are problems here and there, and -- but basically, right now, after more or less five years of experience in these 14 clusters in 10 countries -- I didn't mention that before -- certainly the caloric hunger is over. And as most of the farmers are women, this is a big -- this is a big issue, very positive to women. As a matter of fact, I don't know anything that empowers women more than high maize yields -- (scattered laughter) -- vis-a-vis the relationship with men, whether their spouses or their own, or whatever. It really is an empowering thing, and you can -- and you can tell. When they get something -- some of them get five tons, six tons and so on, man, they are -- they like to go to Iowa and touch base with the farmers over there, and they would be exactly the same -- the same kind of people, really empowered.
What happens also when you get these high yields now on a consistent basis -- there've been a few crop failures, but maybe three and four in about 70 harvests we've had now, so it's not -- it's not -- it's not a serious issue yet. But when you have so much maize -- or, in the case of Mali, it's rice and in other ones it's cassava and so on, so I'm talking -- I'm using maize as a generic thing, sorghum, many, many, many crops. When you have that much, you're no longer hungry. It takes about a ton of maize to feed a family of five in the maize eating countries. You have to account for about 40 percent of the harvest lost by poor storage or pre-harvest losses. Obviously, this is something that has to be tackled as a low-hanging fruit, very low-hanging. And then you have a surplus to sell.
And looking at markets ahead and so on, we created a system of warehouses or serial banks in which farmers deposit that amount there, get some money, because they're really short on money at the beginning, and then wait for five or six months when the price doubles and you sell it. So not only are you tripling yields, but in many cases you're also drop -- doubling the price that farmers get for the surplus that they want to sell.
Another consequence of that is you don't need all that area to grow your basic food crop. So here's where you start with crop diversification for high-value crops. This is where small-scale irrigation comes in, and the villagers are very excited with the cradle pumps and the money maker, and all this stuff that you guys are doing I think is terrific, is the right scale.
And so now they are devoting part of their acreage to high-value crops, like kale, like tomatoes, making aquaculture pumps in the low lying areas and with incredible techniques. There's even a technology in which they make all the fingerlings male because the males grow faster than the females, and these are tilapia and catfish. They say are you changing the sex of -- all the sex? Yeah. (Laughs.) And that's it. That's a known technology now. Must be some sort of hormone. But whatever happens, it's there. Milk, of course, and small poultry is very important, and so on.
Now, what happens with this diversified crops is very interesting because you have a tradeoff. If it's in the hands of the man, he is going to sell those crops in the market. If it's in the hands of the women, she will sell some, but before that she will make sure that their kids get better nutrition.
Nutrition education has been interesting, and we have a lot of people who are community health workers or agricultural extension workers who teach them important stuff. This vegetable is high in iron and zinc, iron, zinc, vitamin A. These things are things they talk about in the village now. So you have this tradeoff. You might make a lot of money, or you might -- or you might improve nutrition. And in some villages where we have a cash crop, like coco in Ghana and bananas in Uganda, it's actually -- there is more money there, but it's actually the places where we have seen the greatest rates of stunting and malnutrition. In other words, the money is going elsewhere.
So there's a lot of community development, training and so on on this issue. So calories, yeah. Protein and micronutrients, probably not yet.
Then this is -- this is another major issue that our partners -- because there are a lot of partners who work with us. One of them, Opportunity International, has developed a mobile bank in which they come in every month or every two weeks to the village in a big truck and crank up a generator and put up a tent. Turn on the computers. The truck itself has a window with bars that looks like a teller's window, and anybody can register. If you put in at least the equivalent of $5 in local currency and out of that comes a smartcard with photograph, thumb prints and so on, they can use it to get loans and they can use it to deposit.
People are saying I'm not keeping my money under the mattress anymore, literally under the mattress anymore, but it's in the bank, so if -- this is a man. If I really am angry and I want to get drunk tonight, I don't have enough money to do that properly. (Laughs.) So they -- it's -- we're getting into the business of banking.
Now, I want to talk about girls and power and then finish with that, because to me, this is the bottom line of this whole development process. If human fertility rates remain in Africa remain at -- I forget what it is -- six or seven live births per female, I don't think we have a chance of leveraging -- leveling our population at 9 billion by 2050. If that's -- if that demographic transition happens, as it has happened in Asia and other places, I think we have -- we have a chance to have in quotes "only 9 billion people" in this planet.
And the bottom line is girls. What we have seen is school meals are tremendous magnet to get girls into primary school. And they -- and they can play sports. They do all sorts of things. Since most of the kids start schooling later, there are a lot of adolescent girls in primary school who are beginning to have their periods. And when they're menstruating, they stay at home for a day -- for a week, I'm sorry -- under very unsanitary conditions. So they lose about a week a month of schooling.
A simple solution there has been sanitary pads. And most of them are not reusable. We're trying to get something that are better reusable, but they've been donated by another company, Procter and Gamble. And in Uganda they're making their own with banana fibers. But the point is now that the girls have a chance to spend full time in school.
So these are all pretty simple things. And the sanitary pads cost about 12 cents each -- put there, so it's a very low-cost intervention. Then the girls have formed their own empowerment clubs in their -- in their schools, and they begin to talk about their problems. And it's managed by the teacher and so on, but at least they get something to say. So they're beginning to use their heads. The point is, of course, that primary school is not enough, should go for secondary schools, and that's harder. And that's -- and that needs financing.
But I like to -- to me, this is the bottom line, to make sure those -- this girls are in primary school now and going to secondary school. By the time they can go to secondary school, hopefully more than that, that they -- by the time they begin to produce children their fertility rates will be low enough because they know all sorts of things about contraception and the fact that in the -- in the villages now being food secure and fairly health secure you're pretty sure child mortality has gone down tremendously, so you're pretty sure.
So I'd like to close with an anecdote, and this may be the beginning, but it's just -- it's just -- it's just one family, one girl. In the village we have in Northern Ethiopia, in Koraro, we were visiting different families and so on. And my wife, Dr. Cheryl Palm -- she told me this story.
She went to a house inside and was this pretty 12-year-old girl, and asked through interpreters what are you -- oh, I'm in fifth grade in primary school. And what are you -- what do you want to do, and says, well, I want to go to secondary school and I want to become a teacher or a truck driver, kind of an interesting -- (laughs) -- because there is a truck now in the village that carries produce back and forth.
So Cheryl, knowing the social situation, says, well -- turn around, says, dad, what do you think? And dad said, well, it's true that's she's of marriageable age. She's 12. And I have several of my friends coming in saying that they would like their son to marry this girl. And I would get a dowry. I would get a bunch of cows for that. So waiting -- but he said you know what? I'm going to go with what she wants. Everybody's jaws dropped. So that's the anecdotal story.
I think this man was able to say that because he is food secure. He's making some money. He have access to the basics; there is a clinic and so on. And before he would've said no, no, she goes, gets married, and get my cows so at least I have some more to eat or to produce something. So to me, this is -- this is the bottom line. The millennium villages are controversial because they are -- they're putting everything together. I think right now five years into them we're probably -- they have probably achieved all the millennium development goals except the poverty one and still have about four years to go until the deadline of 2015 and concentrating on business now. Hopefully, they would achieve that.
So I will stop here, Isobel, and, of course, be glad to ask -- answer questions at the right time.
ISOBEL COLEMAN: Thank you. That was a great overview. Well, the title of this meeting is Innovations and Innovators: New Technologies, Agricultural Productivity and Women's Empowerment. That's a mouthful. We didn't tell you what new technologies. So I think -- and the list of new technologies -- sanitary pads is a game changer, also, of course, high-yielding seeds.
But, Martin, why don't you tell us about some of the new technologies you're introducing, and what is your philosophy? Because I know KickStart has an interesting philosophy about not giving things away and why that is, and how you're making the whole life cycle of a product work.
MARTIN FISHER: Great. Well, thanks, Isobel, and thanks, all of you, for being here. It's a pleasure.
As Isobel said, I spent 17 years living in Kenya, and for the first five years I worked for ActionAid, which is a large British nonprofit similar to Save the Children. And I've been learning for 17 years -- actually, for 25 years -- about what works and what doesn't work, but certainly at ActionAid we tried many things that didn't work, or they worked in the short term but were not sustainable and learned a lot of lessons.
But really, the biggest lesson I think we learned is that everybody anywhere in the world -- and it sounds so simple when you say it -- lives in a cash economy. And it's just absolutely the case. However poor you are anywhere in the world, you need money to buy food, because even if you can grow maize, you can't grow cooking oil or you can't grow tea. You can't grow sugar.
SANCHEZ: Can't grow salt.
FISHER: You can't grow salt. You still need money for that. You need money for the pots and pans. You need money for clothes. You need money to build your house. You need money to send your kids to school, to pay for healthcare. And really, when it comes down to it, the number one need of a poor person anywhere in the world -- and if you ask them this, they'll tell you -- is I need a way to make more money.
And so in 1991 we established KickStart as a nonprofit. In those days we called is ApproTEC, and it was in Kenya, and with a mission to take millions of people out of poverty. And what that means for us is enabling millions of people to make a lot more money. And it's a very measureable thing and it's a very simple thing. And so the reality is that everybody actually is making a little bit of money already, because if you weren't, you literally couldn't survive. And so everybody has a way of making some small amount of money, just not enough money to get out of poverty.
And how do we see this? They're doing informal businesses. Everybody migrated into the cities and started doing informal businesses buying and sell things on the side o the road, making very small margins, all selling the same thing, or on the farms they all grow the same crop at the same time, harvest it at the same time, get low yields, as we've heard, and all try to sell into the same flooded market and make a small amount of money, enough money to stay alive, but not enough money to get out of poverty.
And if you take a business attitude to this, you say well, what's the problem? The problem is actually they're in the wrong business. They're in these over competitive, low-margin businesses. But it's very difficult for a very poor person to come up with a new business idea. And even if they do come up with that new business idea, it's very challenging and challenging for them to identify the right technology that they can afford to buy and afford to use and that's going to be profitable to use to make a new business viable.
And so we said if we can solve these two problems, we can identify businesses that millions of people can start with a very small investment -- because they're already starting businesses. We already know they're entrepreneurial and hardworking and they can start businesses. They're just starting the wrong ones. So if we can identify those very high profitable businesses, and then if we can design the tools and the equipment they need for those businesses and make them locally available on the market, then these poor but very entrepreneurial people can do the rest. They'll buy this equipment and start profitable businesses. And so what we do is exactly that, is we develop this low-cost capital equipment. We designed it, we mass produce it, and we mass market it, and very poor entrepreneurs buy it and start businesses.
Now, what business can your average African start? Well, as we all know, something like 35 (percent) to 40 percent of all the people in the world are small-scale rural farming. I mean, Africa, 80 percent of the poor are small-scale rural farmers. And they have one basic asset. They have a small plot of land, and now very often in Africa, especially in Kenya, you find that plot of land may be even as small as an eighth of an acre or a sixteenth of an acre. They're living there trying to do agriculture. If they're lucky, they own as much as five or 10 acres still. But next generation it's cut down every generation and gets smaller and smaller. And they have one basic skill: farming.
And so the best business that they can start is to move from rain-fed subsistence agriculture where they basically grow staple crops once a year, or if they're lucky with two rains, twice a year, and all sell into that same crowded market -- and 40 percent of it goes bad, as we've just heard -- or move away from that into commercial, irrigated agriculture. Because with irrigation all of a sudden you can grow high-value crops. You can grow them three or four cycles a year. And most importantly, you can bring them out in the time of the year when nobody else has any crops. So the price is very, very high. And you get away from that boom and the bust of the -- of the normal agricultural prices.
And for a small-scale farmer the problem is the technology is simply not affordable. A petrol or diesel-powered pump is quite expensive, and in the deep rural areas there simply isn't any diesel or petrol. Of course, nobody has electricity and solar is still too expensive. So we designed a line of human-powered irrigation pumps, and we call them the money maker pumps. I've got the pictures up here because I wanted to show you what we're talking about. And we call it money maker because a poor person's number one need is a way to make more money.
This is the super money maker because you can make a lot of money with it. (Scattered laughter.) And it's a pressure irrigation pump. You can see on the left it's -- it looks like a little stair master machine. There's a hose pipe that goes down on the left. That goes down into a well, as deep as 25 or 30 feet deep, pulls the water up.
The hose pipe on the right pushes it out just like a garden hose under pressure. You can push it up a hill. You can power sprinklers. You can spray it on your crops. And you can irrigate as much as two acres of land with this particular pump. And it's retailing at $98. And it irrigates very efficiently because it's hose pipe irrigation. You're taking the water exactly to where you want it. You're not doing flood irrigation or channel irrigation. So you're not ruining the soils or messing up the environment.
And let me just tell you a quick story about Janet here. Janet is a mother of six. She lives on a two-acre plot in Western Kenya, and she had a co-wife who had another three children, and she had a husband. And unfortunately, both the co-wife and the husband died of HIV/AIDS -- and in this particular area that's very common. And in this particular tribe when your husband dies, you're inherited by your husband's brother. Now, this is, of course, one of the ways that HIV gets spread, and Janet said I refused to be inherited. And this is very radical. And as a result, she was disowned by her family. And so they would give her nothing.
So there she is left on this two-acre plot with nine children to look after now with absolutely nothing. But she had a little stream that ran through one corner of the plot and she had a bucket. And she took that bucket with her kids and went down and started irrigating that small plot of cabbages, just about the size of this room, with that bucket with the kids, growing cabbages, selling them in town to stay alive. And then she's in town one day at the local shop and she sees one of our salespeople there selling this pump. And she says if I could own that, that could change my life. And she starts saving up the money, literally a few pennies a day, and it took her nine months to save up enough money to buy this pump.
But then she did. She bought the pump. She employed two young men. She started irrigating the full two acres, growing kales and cabbages and tomatoes. Within the first year she made $3,200 profit. Now, this is a huge amount of money in Africa, as you can imagine. She's now become a community leader. She sent all her kids off to good schools. She's built a house. She's built a shop in town. And she's telling other women you don't have to be inherited. There's an alternative.
But $98 -- that's an expensive pump. So we said we have to come up with a lower cost pump. And so we came up with what we call the money maker hip pump. This looks like a over sized bicycle pump, and it's operated not using your arms, because your arms get tired very, very quickly, but really with a rocking motion, because you can see the picture on the left there. It's actually pivoted off the -- off the base there. So you really rock back and forth. And this pump can irrigate one and a quarter acres under pressure again, same thing, and pull water out of a well or any other surface water and push it through a pressurized hose pipe. You can see it spraying there. And it retails at only $34.
Lucy and Felix here, a very typical African couple, young couple living about 50 miles north of Nairobi, no land at all. They're squatting on her father's plot. Her father has one and a half acres that he's farming, so there's no place for them to farm. So the young man is sent into the town, into Nairobi, to look for a job, to try to find a way to support his family. It's very, very frustrating.
He finally gets a job in the slum making a dollar a day as an informal waiter in an informal restaurant. He has to live in the slum on that money, has to -- has a place to live because he can't commute and then send what's left over home to his wife and three kids. Absolutely typical story. So when you go to the rural areas, the men aren't there because they're all in town trying to make money, and they're not sending much money because they're not making much money, OK?
But they saw this pump, and they said, well, we could do something different. They started saving up for this pump, took a family loan. They saved about half of it, took a family loan for the rest, came back. They rented six little plots of land. They didn't own land, so they rented little plots that made up one acre.
We visited them three months later. They just sold their first crop for $1,100 profit for their first crop after three months. Today -- (laughs) -- these people are actually irrigating about six or seven acres. They employ 10 people. And when they're harvesting, they employ three or four people full time. The last time we visited them they had -- tomatoes in the field on that day worth $6,500, plus they had French beans and other crops in the field. So completely transformed their life. They're buying land. They're building a house. And a very, very simple thing can radically change their life.
So that's a couple of stories, but it's got to be all about the numbers. On average, when a family goes from irrigating with a bucket to irrigating with one of these pumps, they -- pumps, they increase net farm income per year of $900 per year, net farm income. And this is really enough to take them beyond poverty. And we say beyond poverty -- what we mean is they're no longer worried about where the next meal comes from. They're no longer worried about whether they can afford to send their kids to school or afford basic clothes. And they have a little bit of money left over to plan for their futures. And if you think about it, that's really a nice definition of beyond poverty. You're no longer worried about survival, and now you can plan for your future.
And to date we have over 110,000 families who are already using these technologies and have got out of a poverty as a result. That's over half a million people already directly out of poverty. And, of course, they're growing food for millions more people, low-cost food during the right seasons. And they're irrigating over 70,000 acres of land. And on each successive month presently over 1,800 more families are starting a business to get out of poverty using this technology. And that's going to go on increasing as we continue to grow sales.
So that's the technology. That's how it works. Now, what we do is we design this technology. We have a lot of design criteria. Of course, it has to be maintained without tools. A farmer doesn't own a screwdriver. They don't own a hammer. They have two hands. You have to take it apart and put it back together with your hands, has to be really easy to operate because you're using human power to try to irrigate with, has to be very ergonomically efficient, has to be very, very robust. People have to be able to jump on this thing and not break it at all, has to be super easy to maintain. There's only one spare part that can be taken off just with your hands and put back on.
We then establish mass production. We used to do it in Africa and now we've moved it to China. So we have a big factory doing high-quality mass production in China. We import into Kenya and Tanzania and Mali and Burkina-Faso where we work. We have 450 local retail shops. These are shops that otherwise sell seeds and fertilizer and pesticides, very little agri-vet shops in the rural areas. We sell to them. They turn around and sell on to the farms.
Now, they make money, the manufacturer makes money, and we make a margin on every pump. But now comes the biggest challenge, and that is convincing a very, very poor farmer in the rural area, like the stories that we heard, to buy a brand new piece of technology, something they've never even dreamed about, they've never seen, and it's an expensive, big ticket item. Now, these are really the world's very, very poorest, hardest to reach, and most risk-averse customers. If they spend their money on this and it doesn't work, they're going to go hungry for a number of months.
So to convince them to buy is a huge challenge. They have to see it to believe it. They have to see it on a farm to believe it. So we have a sales force of 150, 160 commissioned sales staff who are out there every day doing live demonstrations on the farm, in the villages, and an average farmer in Africa doesn't go to town very often. Maybe once or twice a year they go to a big town. They go to their local marketplace maybe once or twice a week if they're lucky, and many women -- actually much less than that. They don't even leave their farm. And so, again, getting to them -- we have to get out there. We have to build a sales force, get out and teach them about how to use this and then convince them to go down to their local shop, save up their money, and buy one of these pumps because it'll drastically change their life.
So that's what we do and that's what we use the donor funds to do, is that market development as well as also the technology development. And for every $350 that we spend of donor funds -- and that includes everything from fund raising to management to technology development, to impact monitoring because we have to measure the impacts very carefully because we're using donor funds -- so we really have to know what impact these pumps have on people. For every $350 we can take another family out of poverty, and it's -- one-time payment, takes them out of poverty really forever, because once they buy this pump, they start investing in other businesses. They buy some cows. They buy some poultry. They build a rental house. They send their kids off to school.
We just met a woman the other day, single -- well, widowed woman with two kids. And after her husband died she had nothing. And her father-in-law bought her one of our pumps. And she took the pump and she worked on her plot of land for three years, made enough money to buy a motorized pump, and also made enough money to buy some cows, and now she also has poultry. She's brought electricity to her house. She's presently paying without any subsidy the school fees for her daughter, who is at university in Denmark from the business that she's run on the farm, just starting with one of these pumps and building up.
And so this is the pathway that happens. Once people take that first step out of poverty and start making enough money to plan for their future, then they can take the subsequent steps.
COLEMAN: So, Martin, let me just ask you. If you're spending $350 of donor funds on the market development and the technology development, why don't you just make it 400 (dollars) and give the pumps away?
FISHER: So this is a good question. Why don't we give things away? Now, the challenge with giving things away is people think it's cheap to give things away. It's actually not very cheap to give things away. You have to set up a large infrastructure to get out into the rural areas. You have to try to identify who the right people are to give it to. You then have to go and actually give it to them. Generally, you get the wrong people. We used to give a lot of things away at ActionAid. We'd always go into the community, work with the community leaders to identify the poorest people, and then help the poorest kids in that community.
And at that time when I was at ActionAid I remember we were actually giving free school fees and we were giving books to these kids, and we really believed we were with the poorest kids. And then one day we came into a schoolroom like this room here. We had all the parents stand on one side of the room, we had all the kids stand on the other side of the room. We asked the kids to walk across the room to their parents. Where did they go? Went to the head teacher, to the chief, to the policeman, to the -- we didn't have the poorest kids at all. We really believed we did.
But it's very hard to give things away fairly, but much more importantly than that also is that there's no supply chain there. And so you're lucky enough to get the pump because we've decided to give it to you, but your neighbor wants to start a business. They can't because there's nowhere they go and buy a pump. They didn't get lucky enough to get chosen. There's nowhere to get spare parts. And when the pump breaks down, you're going to come back and say where are those donors? We want another one of those. Come back and give us one.
At the same time when people get given things it really sort of kills their entrepreneurial spirit and they become dependent and they just expect. Wait, we want to wait until you give us another pump. And we're seeing this time and again because people buy up pumps and give them away because we'll sell our pumps to anyone. And so a lot of missionaries and other people and NGOs have bought our pumps and given them away. What does it do? It completely puts out of business our retail shops in that area for a couple of years because nobody is going to go buy a pump when they think that same donor is going to come and give them one. And it just delays development by two years by giving them away.
COLEMAN: That was a setup question by the way. (Laughter.)
Pedro, yes, go -- yeah.
SANCHEZ: Let me -- can I add something to this issue? As I said, I'm a fan of the -- of the money makers and all that. In terms -- we know that water is getting increasingly scarce and that 70 (percent) or 80 percent of the -- of the fresh water that we can use is used for agriculture. What these pumps do, particularly if they're plugged in into a drip irrigation system which some of the farmers have -- that costs more money but are also -- is a similar level investment -- is they get about 75 (percent) to 85 percent efficiency. In other words, 75 (percent) to 85 percent of that water that is added actually penetrates -- is used by the plants for evapotranspiration out.
The efficiency of a large-scale irrigation system is about 49 percent. So you're really -- you're -- and when you use a hose -- it's a similar concept in your garden and so on -- it gets very efficient because you just apply the right amount of water. With drop irrigation it's even more precise. But the point is that this slows low -- small-scale situations -- is what's making the differences. And the paradigm has shifted of oh, Africa has only 4 percent irrigated agriculture. Let's pick some build dams. That is not going to happen. I think this is a way to go in most cases.
FISHER: Yeah. And let me just add to that that, yeah, sub-Saharan Africa -- only 4 percent of the farmland is irrigated compared to Asia where 42 percent of the farm land is irrigated. So the potential for irrigation is absolutely huge. There have been many plans and in the past many constructions of huge irrigation systems. A large -- very large proportion of them have failed and actually are not succeeding. Those that are succeeding are very, very expensive, put hectare irrigated compared to something like this. And, of course, that takes huge, huge expenditures while here people invest their own time, own money, own hard work to irrigate.
COLEMAN: I could go on and ask a lot of questions, but I'm sure all of you have some questions too. Why don't I open it to you? If you wouldn't mind, just please raise your name card this like. I'll take you in the order that I see you. Just please identify yourself, your affiliation and ask your question. Thank you.
QUESTIONER: I'm Linda Gottlieb with the Women in Foreign Policy Group. I'm so interested. Pedro, your model seems quite different from what Martin is doing in that you're dependent, as I understand it, from having tremendous funds available which you pour into a project. You're trying, I gather, Martin, to make something that's sustainable on its own financially. What happens, Pedro, to the millennium village project when the -- when the funds or dry up or when you leave? It's the old Afghanistan project. What happens when -- (laughs) -- you walk out?
SANCHEZ: OK, we're -- luckily we have time to get ourselves out of business, and we're beginning to get ourselves out of business. We're out of a subsidized -- subsidy business for seed and fertilizers. Banks are coming in. They're beginning to take loans. It costs $135 to -- in seed and fertilizer, unsubsidized, to grow an extra ton of maize. So these are some of the standards that we're using, but they're getting -- they're getting the loans.
But two questions on the sustainability. On the sustainability of farmers as a small business who have diversified crop (produced ?) intensively. I don't think there's much question about it in my mind. I think that is sustainable. What I'm more worried is the sustainable of public goods, such --
QUESTIONER: Of what?
FISHER: -- public goods, such as extension, health, that we are -- the transfer of what we're spending there, and agriculture is only 15 percent of our budget. (Laughs.) Agriculture is cheap compared to health, which is about 30 percent, and education, which is about 35 percent. It varies with countries tremendously, but sometimes you even have to help them build schools, give them the materials to build schools from scratch. So my real concern is the delivery of public goods, including infrastructure after that.
But farmers -- first, they all know that we're -- that we're leaving in four years now, and already they're -- I mean, they go and buy some of the inputs that used to be given, highly subsidized. Still, they had to pay something for it, and we have the same principle. You have -- you don't given anything -- certainly no cash given out of any -- of any kind. But, yeah, we donate the cement for them to help build a school and that kind of stuff. So there's a transfer there, maybe a gift put in in kind.
So the answer is -- proof to the pudding is, OK, wait until 2016 or so, but I think on turning this what I call basically sub-subsistence farmers in the places -- most of the places we work, way, way, way below subsistence, into small-scale entrepreneurs with diversified products using supplement irrigation, using all sorts of other -- of other things being plugged into the markets, totally plugged into the markets so they can -- they can do the proper -- the proper thing. I'm pretty optimistic that that can happen. It's the other part, the health and extension, agricultural extension, education, infrastructure and so on, which are the public goods that worries me.
COLEMAN: Are there deals with other -- with those governments, in those countries where you are? Have they agreed to take on any of this at 2015?
FISHER: Well, some of them have, but -- (laughs) -- I don't trust them. And part of the problem is there's going to be a new government probably in most of these places in 2015, like little -- this country. So they promised you anything knowing darn well they're not going to be an office, or it's going to take a lot of -- a lot of the other dimension of our work, which is policy advice, at the national level working with ministers and heads of states and so on, on this. Of course, they love the villages. They go there. They see things happening, wow and so on, and they want to -- they want to scale up, which is also happening. So we'll see.
The amount of money -- it's -- our budget, theoretical budget, what we started, was $110 per capita per year. So we look at past investments in integrated rural developments and don't get very good data from the World Bank or any of these places about this. But our gross estimate is something in between 5 (dollars) to $10 a year. So we're an order of magnitude higher. Actually, now that we're beginning to figure out the expenses and so on, it's actually -- well, it's actually less than that, but also everything was based on 5,000 people, and this village is now -- are averaging 6,500 and 7,000 people because people are coming back from the towns or the cities because there's something to do, not because birth rates exploded or anything like that.
So, yeah, it's all within budget according to what the government's promised. So, yeah, it's more than other places. But it allows to -- if we were doing only, let's say, fertilizer as a soil scientist and people are dying all over the place of malaria, then it allows to tackle across the sectors.
COLEMAN: Did you want to comment?
FISHER: Yeah, I'll just -- I'll just comment briefly about the public goods issue because certainly public goods is a big question. And, you know, when we talk about business solutions to poverty, we're talking about selling irrigation pumps or other technologies that eventually can become fully sustainable. The truth is there are also fully sustainable models in public goods.
There's a fantastic model, for example, in Kenya for private, franchised education, a group called Bridge International, which is doing really the bottom 10 percent cheapest education in Kenya, even compared to the public education, because when you go to a free public school, you still have to buy uniforms. You still have to buy books and other things. So these guys are doing -- for $3.75 per kid per month it's actually is -- already is one of the very, very best educations you can get in Kenya, and it's profitable. They've already opened 35 schools in the slums, in Nairobi and in other cities. They're going to have 100 schools by Christmas, and they're going to have a million kids in the next five years in these schools.
QUESTIONER: What's the name of that? That's the --
FISHER: And it's a for profit business.
QUESTIONER: Say the name again.
FISHER: Bridge International. And this is just taking the very state of the art in education and saying how can we bring the price down, taking the very state of the art in teaching -- how can we bring the price down. We're building classrooms. I've worked with them quite a bit, $1,800 to build a classroom. I've built a whole school for about $40,000. And then the kids paying $3.75 per month -- and they're using Empessa. They're using mobile payments to make all the payments on a monthly basis, and they're paying the teachers and they're paying the headmaster, and it's a for profit business.
Same thing in health. Sustainable, for profit health clinics. In fact, the vast majority of people in Africa already pay for healthcare. If you go to the public clinic, you pay bribes ) If you go to the private clinic, which there's a huge number of, you pay good money for very bad healthcare. Therefore, there's real possibilities of providing very good healthcare at profitable bases. It's already profitable to provide bad healthcare. All you have to do is change those protocols a bit and you can make it very profitable as well.
Even farm extension -- we have new examples of sustainable farm extension coming up, even in Kenya, a group called One Acre Fund. And they're right now at 65 (percent), 70 percent of cost recovery in terms of farm extension costs. And they're going to get better doing similar things to what millennium villages -- so I actually am a firm believer in business solutions for poverty. The truth is if the government would pay, that would be fantastic, but these governments have a very, very low tax base. Why? Because there is no money being made, so nobody's paying taxes, and even those few people who are making money -- the government is corrupt. They're not really paying. They're not collecting a lot of the taxes. So if the government isn't going to come in, then we have to find sustainable solutions in the private sector, and with clever business models we can get there.
QUESTIONER: Hi, I'm Ellen Morris from Columbia University in the School of International Public Affairs and work in the area of energy and development. And much of what you say about water -- the -- it's very parallel to what we see in energy where the energy poverty is huge. In other words, access to energy is very low, 1.6 billion people without electricity, 2.4 billion people cooking on very inefficient systems.
And I wholeheartedly agree with you about the enterprise approach and how a -- give away a program, which we see a lot in energy where a lot of well-meaning people bring solar panels to villages, and then within six months, year, whatever, it's totally dysfunctional. And the need for -- a look for affordable solutions that are available in the rural areas that are backed up by service -- unfortunately, energy has sort of more moving parts than yours, so you only have one spare part. Energy has a bit more, but the important thing is to sort of build in that look towards service and maintenance at the local level.
And my question to you actually relates to what we've sometimes seen with these rural agricultural processing systems that are called the multifunctional platform that the United Nations supports, a lot in West Africa. Now it's in East Africa. And what we see is women are -- they're owned by women's groups, so the multifunctional platform is owned by the women's group, and we're trying to move them away from just subsistence farming, using it just for their own consumption, to more production. And the -- one of the big challenges, though, is access to markets from these rural villages that have very poor infrastructure and connection to rural markets. You're operating in the same markets with these rural irrigation systems.
How do you help women sort of solve that issue about yes, you're producing more agricultural products, but how do you package it so it becomes a higher value product? How do you actually reach the market? How do you get a fair price, those sorts of things, in your supply chain, sort of beyond when you give them the -- when they have the pump and they're using it and have this tremendous amount of productivity, how do they actually -- what role do you play?
The second question is does end user finance play any role in affording the up-front cost of $98 for the systems? Do you actually link up with micro-finance institutions, or do you leave it up to the buyer to sort of find their own financing if they need it?
FISHER: Great. So couple of comments first. I think these multifunctional platforms and other technologies, which are donated very often to groups, to be managed by a group -- they very often end up with the exact same problem that you were talking about with the giving away solar pumps, I mean, solar panels, that when they're given to this group, they're -- as long as they're -- they work, they're great. The minute they break down they're not great.
And when it comes to managing a money-making device as a group, it's actually very, very difficult. And, you know, even having a -- starting a business in America as a partnership is difficult. I mean, three people together -- start a business is even more challenging. (Laughs.) No, so now you have a group and you're trying to manage a business, because wait a minute, I was here at 8:00 this morning. You arrived at 10:00. Why are we splitting this money equally? And I used to do this a lot. We used to use a lot of communal groups with businesses, with technology, and making money, and it was a big challenge.
In terms of access to markets, this is the wonderful thing about irrigation, is you're growing in the off season because only 4 percent of the land is irrigated in sub-Saharan Africa, and that's mainly in Madagascar growing rice. So it's much, much lower than that in most sub-Saharan Africa.
MR. : Mm-hmm. That's right.
FISHER: And you're only the people who have the crops in the off season. The woman I told you who sent her daughter to Denmark to university -- she sells at the farm gate. People come to buy the crops. She never even leaves the farm because she has the produce when nobody else has it.
And this is the thing. If you're only going to do one intervention, the best intervention is irrigation. It's not increasing yields of the other staple crops because you simply flood the market with more produce at the time when the price is low, and 40 percent of it goes bad. Forty of the -- more crop still goes bad. So what that means if you're growing staple crops -- it's great if you can solve the storage problem, if you can solve the transport problem, if you can solve the processing problem. And we have to work on those problems, absolutely. But if you're only going to make one intervention in agriculture, the great thing about irrigation is you don't have a marketing -- market access problem.
But I used to work also on food processing in Kenya, and it's a big challenge. You know, you have a -- sold a dryer and you're making fantastic dried mangos. The reality is -- you look at -- do market research on dried mangos -- people don't really like dried mangos. (Laughter.) So you end up selling to ex pats in -- or, you know -- or wealthy people in Nairobi. Well, that's a tiny market, and how do you access it and how do you compete with the commercial people who are doing it, you know, really high quality because you've got worms in your mangos and they don't?
So it's difficult. There's, of course, other people who are doing out growing, and so in Kenya we have a huge amount of export, horticulture crops. And so especially French beans are grown and sweet peas and other things. So there we work with the exporters and the outgrowers, and these are companies who now contract with thousands of farmers, small-scale farmers, to grow, you know, French beans for export. And we're just putting together a partnership now with a company called Frigoken. They have 80,000 small-scale farmers irrigating with buckets growing French beans, which are then processed locally into cans and then sold in Europe.
And now we're working with them and with a bank, with Equity bank, to provide credit and close the circle, because now what happens is the bank can finance the pumps to the farmer, and then the company, Frigoken, which is buying the produce, can actually pay back the bank by subtracting off what they pay the farmer. Because banks are very, very risk averse. This was your other question. Are we working with banks or MFIs in the rural areas? Most MFIs in East Africa don't work in the rural areas. They simply don't know how to do it because the cost of customer acquisition for poor rural farmers is simply too high. And once they give a loan, it's too expensive to collect.
So there's a lot of MFIs in Africa, but they work in urban and peri-urban areas. We've been trying to partner with MFIs for years. We are now finally partnering with some of the banks and MFIs, but they actually don't have a product for the -- for the farmer, because if you're giving a loan to farmer, you have to have a three-month holiday before the harvest comes in. MFIs like to start collecting in week one, week two, week three while you don't have any cash in week one, two and three. So you have to design a special instrument for farmers. And the banks and MFIs are starting to think about that, but they haven't really figured it out yet.
And so what we do is we've actually developed a whole new way of financing, which is using cellphones to do layaway. Now, it turns out that actually micro-savings are probably even more important than credit. As Pedro says, you know, people literally are saving the money under their mattress because when you live in a mud hut half the size of this room, you have no choice. And of that money they save under the mattress, some 40 percent of it disappears. It's kind of -- it's not really stolen, but it's borrowed for other -- (laughs) -- family -- you know, other needs that come up.
So we're actually competing with a negative 40 percent savings rate -- (laughs) -- and that's actually pretty easy to compete with. So what we do is we say OK, let's -- using cellphone money transfer, which has now taken off across Kenya, people can open an account to pay for a pump. And they actually have a nonrefundable deposit initially, and that's the fee which covers the costs. And then over time they slowly put money into the account until they're fully paid for the pump, and then we transfer that money to the local retail shop. They go pick up their pump.
We're just piloting this. We're up to our first 100 farmers. Interestingly, it's primarily woman who are interested in this, and woman buying our hip pump, which is our lowest cost pump. So we've actually, by doing this, got down to a whole poorer strata of woman farmers by doing this. And we're now just working out the kinks and are going to expand this. And the idea -- even with this, because we have a fee -- eventually at scale. I say eventually at scale because it's very important to understand. But eventually at scale the idea is even that will become a profitable business. When you have enough people on layaway with these small fees, that'll add up to cover costs.
COLEMAN: Specifically, what are the fees?
FISHER: So in this case they have a 4 percent fee that they pay --
COLEMAN: Up front.
FISHER: -- up front, non-deposit, nonrefundable fee, yeah.
COLEMAN: Which bank is the partner?
FISHER: And so we're actually doing it in-house so far without a bank.
COLEMAN: In-house, OK.
FISHER: Yeah. And this is how layaway works in America. You know, if -- as I'm sure you all remember back in --
SANCHEZ: It's a good idea.
FISHER: -- the '50s and '60s we -- everyone did layaway in the -- even the '70s. It disappeared with cheap credit cards. And now layaway has come back with the financial crisis, and even K-Mart and other places are doing layaway. If you go to Canada today, some 70 percent of young couples buy their rings, their engagement rings and wedding rings, on layaway still. The farmers in Africa love layaway, and they actually really want to do it with the retail shops, and they do. They go to the retail shop. Look, I've got 1,000 schillings. You know, I need to give it to you so I don't spend it. (Laughs.) I want that pump. Let me give it to you.
But the retail shops don't really like holding money because now there's a lot of liability. So now by doing it using the cellphone and there's an official way of doing it.
COLEMAN: OK, but you're -- KickStart is managing it, so they --
FISHER: (Off mic.)
COLEMAN: -- give the 4 percent up-front fee to KickStart --
FISHER: That's right.
COLEMAN: -- and then they save the rest of it on the cellphone.
FISHER: That's right.
COLEMAN: So it's not really -- and then they get the pump.
FISHER: And then they get the pump.
COLEMAN: So it's not really -- it's a savings plan. It's not really layaway. Layaway you get the item --
FISHER: No, layaway you don't. That would be credit.
COLEMAN: Oh, you don't. OK, yeah, OK.
SANCHEZ: No, layaway you don't, yeah, yeah.
(Laughter, cross talk.)
FISHER: So it's micro-savings.
COLEMAN: Shows you the generation, OK, sorry. (Laughter.) Never done layaway.
(Laughter, cross talk.)
SANCHEZ: -- a couple of -- a couple of things to very much -- to what Martin is saying. And you can see here where ther approach is a one intervention or a -- or a holistic intervention pretty much in the same -- on the same wavelength.
On micro-finance, it's not for agriculture. Micro-finance -- for somebody to borrow $10 to buy a used sewing machine, a classic thing in India. In agriculture if you want to get an extra ton, it's going to cost you $130. If you buy one of those things, it going to cost you about $100, and so on. So we're talking about another set of zeroes there.
We have experienced -- and one of our bad experience has been when we ourselves, the program, became a lender and a banker. That didn't work. That didn't work. So now, partnering with AGRA, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, we have -- we have looked at this problem, and actually, AGRA devise the brilliant solution, and that is work with the banks. Work with the banks. But the banks are not interested in the rural areas. They don't want to lend to anybody who has no collateral. And that's a rule of banking. Apparently, it's sort of one of the real -- the real rules.
So these people have no collateral because most of them -- if they're lucky, they have a title to their land, and then that's sub-collateral. But most of them don't even have a title to the land, especially the women. So what AGRA did with Equity Bank and other banks, Stanbic and other ones in various countries, is to say OK, we'll give you a credit guarantee, Equity Bank. We'll give you a credit guarantee of X million dollars for which -- if you -- whatever you don't collect that is above the average of repayment rates of regular loans, we'll give you -- we'll underwrite half of it.
So I think the -- first, underwriting for that, for lending money for the -- for these people without collateral, which was also in Kenya with Equity Bank, AGRA put on the table a credit guarantee of $6 million. And with that they lend I don't know how many hundreds of millions of dollars into -- certainly over $100 million for the small farmers. The only thing AGRA had to use out of that credit guarantee because of default payments was $3,900.
SANCHEZ: So that's a way to get around it. Another one, and key one, is the cellphone revolution. Not only the -- do -- are there better banking systems in Kenya now than we have in the United States with Empessa and so on, but cellphones are very cheap. With about $10, $20, you can buy one, and you can find out what the -- what the prices are in the local markets and all sorts of things that avoid a lot of the -- a lot of where do you go to sell the -- to sell the produce.
We're working with -- a lot with private companies that are involved in the food business to also -- to facilitate the value change going all the way to the local supermarket, which is a given in any reasonable sized town in Africa. And then eventually some of them go for exports but very little. So there are many, many ways using what I like to call some intelligent interventions. Certainly, this is one of them. But the other one is a credit guarantee for banks out of the banking industry. I mean, that's just -- that's just unheard of -- was -- and now everybody's beginning to do it.
My buddy Akin Adesina from AGRA -- he just came back a couple of weeks ago since he signed a $6 billion deal with the Central Bank of Nigeria for -- now for the central bank to give this credit guarantees to other banks and so on. So what we see is a real revolution is happening by many of these little things. Talk about a silver bullet. Malaria bed nets. They last for five years. Wow. Really -- it really cuts malaria down, and so on. So things are really happening.
QUESTIONER: Hi, I'm Kirrin Gill. I'm the director of Learning and Impact at ICRW, the International Center for Research on Women, and I was the lead author on the purple paper outside that you might've picked up on the way in, where we looked at case studies of technologies that have benefited women. And many of them were small scale, but actually, KickStart was one of the organizations that we highlighted that had reached greater scale. And we're now doing a follow-up paper looking at projects specifically focusing on the issues of sustainability, so groups that are using private-sector approaches like KickStart, as well as ones that are reaching greater scale.
So I'm really interested in what both of you have to say about specific lessons related to reaching the women, reaching the women farmers that you've worked with at every stage of the process. You talked about specific examples of individual women, Martin, but can you generalize more broadly about what are some of the differences that you see specific to women in general, the likelihood that they're going to take up the pump, the marketing problems that women -- that you face with women? In particular, you've talked a little bit about the funding, but how about use of the equipment? Is there a difference between women and men?
Pedro, you talked about the benefits of how women use the benefits of the seeds, but were there some differences in the uptake amongst women farmers of these seeds? Were they more reluctant or unable to get access to these seeds because of lack of collateral? So if you could give your ideas of what would be the lessons that you'd like to relate to other groups starting projects related to women in agriculture.
FISHER: Want to go first? OK.
SANCHEZ: Go ahead.
FISHER: Great. So -- well, it's great to hear that we were a case study there, and certainly, in my mind, sustainability and scale are really two of the most important things we need to look at. And just to say briefly, when I talk about sustainability, it takes a long time to make something sustainable, even with a private market approach like we're using. And if you'll just give me two minutes, let me just cover that first and then get to your question.
And people often look at us and say look, you're selling these pumps. How come you're not profitable? How come it's not a sustainable business already? You're selling the pumps just like any business. You know, we shouldn't need donor money. So let me just talk quickly about the need for donor money, and then to get specifically to your question on that. And I just want to show you here on this plot on the -- on the page here that if we plot versus time, the number of sales of a brand new product entering a market anywhere in the world and the cost per sale -- and that's the cost in terms of advertising and marketing required to sell that product, OK?
So in the very beginning the sales, of course, are very low and the costs actually are also very low because these are the very, very easy-to-reach early adopters. This is the guy on the side of the road who has a lot of extra money, and says yeah, I'll take one of those pumps. Why not? So you can really fool yourself in the beginning when you sell to the very early adopters and think, oh, it's easy to sell something. But very quickly you will discover that you have to get off the road and you have to build out infrastructure, and you get harder to convince buyers. So your costs go up and you have to build an organization. You have to do a whole lot of branding. Your sales, on the other hand, are still growing very slowly.
Eventually, when you've built the organization, your sort of economies of scale start to kick in and the costs start to come down and the sales are still going slowly until you reach some kind of a critical mass at which point word of mouth takes off. And the sales then go up very, very rapidly, and, of course, the cost of sale comes down because now the word of mouth has taken off. You don't have to convince each and every woman out there to buy a brand new product. They just know it because their neighbors are using it. So they know that it's a useful thing.
Of course, then competition kicks in. Now, at that point you've created a really sustainable business because your margins when you're selling to the poor have to be low. You know, when you're selling an iPod to wealthy people, your margins might be 300 (percent), 400 percent. When you're selling to the poor, they have to be low or they can't afford it. So it only makes sense at scale. And now your cost of sale comes down below your margins and it's a sustainable business, and you've created a whole new industry of other competitors selling this product.
But there's a market failure. The private sector doesn't come in and sell brand new big ticket items to poor farmers in rural Africa. And this is precisely why farmers today are still using the two same technologies they have for the last few hundred years, a machete and a hand-held hoe. That's the same two. Nobody's figured out how to sell them that third product. It's a market failure because it takes so long to get to scale where you could actually make money. And that's where you need to use the donor funds as a smart subsidy to get through that.
If you think about products that we buy, it took us 15 years in America to figure out that PCs were useful. It took us 15 years to adopt PCs, took us 15 years to adopt cellphones, took us six or seven years to adopt hybrid cars. It takes time and money even for the very wealthiest people in the world to adopt new technology. And now we're selling to the very poorest people in the world.
And in America we have all sorts of subsidies. We have indirect subsidies, roads, electricity, all this kind of stuff. We have direct subsidies going in there and funding R&D, funding market development. In Africa there's no subsidy, so this is where the donor money comes in. So just to understand why KickStart is a nonprofit, why there's a market failure, and it might take 10 or 15 years to get there, but -- to get to scale.
Now to talk about how to reach women, if you look at actually what happens on the ground -- and people who come into the shops to buy our pumps, something like 18 percent of them actually are women who come into the shop themselves. Every pump comes --
FISHER: One-eight, yeah, 18 percent. Every pump comes with a guarantee form. They fill out the guarantee form and put their name on the guarantee form that they've bought that pump. They come with the cash, OK? But, in fact, what we've discovered is probably only about 5 (percent) to 10 percent of the buyers of our pump are what you would call real single mothers, because what we've discovered is that really there's always a man somewhere around in the background. And it's usually the man who then actually makes the decision we're going to buy this pump.
And then if you go and ask them who owns the pump, you've got a couple farming and you say who actually owns this pump, well, they'll defer to the man and say generally the man owns it, although 38 percent will say the pump is actually owned and managed by the woman or by the couple together. And, in fact, what we've discovered is the vast majority of these pumps is actually owned and managed by the couple together. It takes two people to pump; one person's pumping, one person's spraying.
These pumps are kind of amazing. I had my -- one of my impact monitoring women come to me not very long ago, and she said, Martin, there's something magical about these pumps. I've never met so many happy couples in my life. (Laughter.) She said me and my husband -- we come home at night from work and we fight every night and we go to bed angry at each other and get up in the morning and go to work and come back and fight. She said, you know, these couples have to get up in the morning and work together. (Laughter.) They solve their fights somehow.
And I don't get to the field that often, but at least on three or four different occasions, women have come up to me when they heard that I designed this original pump, and they said thank God for this pump. This pump has saved my marriage and saved my husband. My husband was a good-for-nothing drunk, and now he's a proud father and a proud member of the community and a family. And we work together, and we're sending all our kids to school.
And so really, when we think about business, it's about family business. It's not about women's business or men's business because we want to bring the family back together. I told you the story earlier of the young man going off to the town. Well, he's living in the town by himself in the slum barely able to send money home to his wife, feeling ashamed because he can't even look after his family, and yes, he has to live there, and he probably has a girlfriend there.
And, you know -- but he -- it's not because he doesn't want to look after his family. It's because to look after his family today he has to make money, and that's only in the last generation. It never used to be that way. It used to be he would go hunting. He'd go to the forest, cut down the trees. But all his traditional roles have disappeared. Today he has to make money to look after his family, and there's no jobs, right? And so he becomes discouraged. He becomes depressed. He becomes an alcoholic.
And when you bring back an opportunity for them to work together as a couple, as a family, and run family businesses, it really works well. When we talk to the women and say look, what do you really value about these pumps, both of them say the thing they value the most is income security and food security and good quality food for their kids, OK? They also both perceive themselves as richer and as role models in the community. So they feel proud about what they're doing because now they're high-tech farmers, right?
If you talk to the woman alone in a focus group about what they value, they'll say that's the number one thing. Then they'll say I get to send my children to school, and then they'll say I get to buy a new dress, and I get to dress well and the family to dress well. And then I get to buy household furniture and other items. And when I go the woman's group, I feel confident that I can have my savings when I'm in the woman's group where we're having a savings group.
When you talk to the men about their priority investments alone with this pump, they do say, first of all, it's food security. Then they say I pay the school fees -- even the men say that -- and then it's I can make investments. I can buy more land. I can buy livestock. I can buy poultry. I can buy a bicycle. I can buy a motorcycle. I can build a new house. You know, we've got 18,000 families who've built new houses. You know, we're not -- we're not trying to have people build new houses, but that's one of the things they do when they have enough money to plan their futures.
When you talk to the women about secondary benefits, then they'll bring up the fact -- OK, well, yes, it's not so much drudgery. I don't have to walk so far to get the water because now I have a well on my plot. I wasn't going to dig a well on my plot just to get clean water. That makes no sense. It's expensive to dig a well. I can still get water. It doesn't cost me anything but time to get the water, and the opportunity, the cost on my time, sadly is very low. But now that I have a well on my plot that I've dug to irrigate and I'm making money from it, hey, I don't have to walk as far for the water for my family and for my cattle.
And they both also say that the pump reduces idleness, and the women say -- they say they're very happy that the men folk are no longer hanging out in the marketplace and drinking, and the men say they're very happy that the women folk are no longer hanging out and --
FISHER: -- gossiping. (Laughter.) But in terms of getting to the women, the women stay on the farm. You have to get out to the farm. You used to think you could just sort of demonstrate in town, but as I said before, people don't come to town very often and then women in particular don't come to town. We get out on the farm. We demonstrate to the women on the farm, and that's expensive and time consuming, but then they become the influences. So many times it's the woman whose idea it is to buy the pump. She'll say I convinced my husband to buy the pump. OK, it's his pump. He paid for it. But I convinced him.
And so it's very, very important to see -- in my mind, to see the woman get to them on the farm, realize that they're the influencer in the family, and realize that actually what you want to do is develop a family business and bring the family back together.
QUESTIONER: Where do you think you are today on your graph?
FISHER: So in this plot now in -- we reckon in that tipping point, that critical mass, happens at something like 15 (percent) to 20 percent of market potential. And you can look at a lot of different technologies around the world, whether it's cellphones, whether it's color TVs, whether -- whatever it is. And that happens about 15 (pecent) to 20 percent of market potential when world of mouth really takes off. In Kenya, we're at about 8 percent market potential. Tanzania we're about 4 percent. But we have an area in Western Kenya that we're calling the tipping point area. It's a -- it's an area which is 30 kilometers by 70 kilometers, got two towns and one road, 1.1 million people, mostly who are farmers, in it. That's Kitale and Eldoret.
Now, in that area we've been putting a huge amount of extra money into marketing and sales. We have 19 retail shops. We have about 17 commissioned sales staff there. We're pouring a huge amount of radio ads and other things into that area.
And over the course of the last year what we're tracking is three things. We're tracking awareness because you can't buy something if you're not aware about it. And then we're tracking understanding of value, meaning that you understand that if you bought this it could change your life, because you might be aware of it but you don't really understand the value. I mean, I was aware of cellphones for a long time, but I didn't buy one because I don't need that thing, all right? Took me a long time to be convinced.
So you have to understand the value, and then you have to purchase. And over the course of -- we've just been tracking in -- from October last year to April in October, and by then we'd already been working there for about a year. We had 65 percent awareness of people who knew about the pump. We had 44 percent of the people who understood the value. And we had about 8 percent of the families who'd already bought a pump. Today -- we just finished this, just got these results yesterday -- we have 91 percent awareness in that area of random -- we randomly select households and just go to a GPS point and talk to the first household, 91 percent awareness. We have about 67 percent who really understand the value, and already 13 percent of those families already actually own a pump.
So what we're going to do in that area is we're going to really target marketing for another 12 months, actually double up from what we're doing to drive that awareness to 100 percent, drive that understanding of value to hopefully 80 (percent) or 90 percent. And then we're going to drastically pull back on marketing effort and see if we've got to this point where the sales continue to grow and we can cut back and actually become -- cost recovery in that area. So it's an experimental area.
SANCHEZ: OK. Mine's will be a lot shorter. The women are the ones who have the higher -- much higher repayment rate on loans of any kind than men. And actually, it's the poorest women who pay their loans the highest, which is amazing. When we had this loan failure with only 30 percent repayment, now with time they said we'll take our time. Yeah, it's getting about 80 percent. It was the, quote, "the rich, the elite," in relative terms in the village that wasn't paying the loans back. But a little mama walking around with -- having a small loan, goes there with her cash and she pays it back.
So there's a certain something about the women. And in the millennium villages, we deal with a lot of cultures because we have villages scattered all over the place. We have your traditional, let's say, Christian culture, like in Western Kenya. We talk a lot about Western Kenya because it's so important. But we have 100 percent Muslims in the Sahel and in Northeast Kenya. We even have a village which is 50 percent Muslim and 50 percent Christian in Northern Nigeria, and they get along fine. But the differences are there -- are there in the culture as well.
I don't find any difference in who are the most productive farmers, whether they're men or women. The top farmers that we have, these ones who know that they are the best farmers, are both men and women. And I don't -- I don't see it gender specifically different. These are individuals who are outstanding, who really know what they're doing. So to me -- to me, it's --
QUESTIONER: Women are less productive? There are lots of studies showing women are less productive.
SANCHEZ: No, no, not at all. On the contrary, they're probably more productive if you -- if you do a time motion study of all the things they have to do. But even in agriculture, no, they're extremely productive.
QUESTIONER: -- the inputs and, you know, the other factors.
SANCHEZ: Yeah, yeah, I mean, you have to get inputs. Even for this thing to work, you need -- you -- you're likely to need fertilizers in more soils of Africa because they're depleted of nutrients. So, you know, you need -- you need a -- you need several things.
One disadvantage that women have is they're less educated than men simply because when they were girls most of them didn't -- weren't able to go to school. And that's something that I think we are erasing from the situation now having essentially 99 point something percent of the boys and the girls in school.
So to me, there's big issues on tenure. If you want to get -- if you get to an issue of land tenure, who owns the land, then in most cultures it is a man, and the woman has no rights to the land and even to -- not allowed to plant a tree. Now, we have some -- we have some matriarchal cultures in two of the clusters, one in Ghana and one in Malawi, in which is it is a woman who is the boss. And certainly, you have a chief, a paramount chief, very -- (chuckles) -- I mean, very spectacular in Ghana, this queen you have. She doesn't talk to you. She talks to her advisors, her brothers, and so on, and they talk to you. Finally went back to her and started speaking in English and spoke with a perfect American accent, and she was educated in Ohio, and so -- (laughter) -- it was all a traditional -- it was all a traditional thing.
But anyway, in the -- in the matriarchal countries the women have the power, but it's the uncles, their brothers, that usurp that power and end up having the power again. So it doesn't really help there. I think the best thing you can do -- of course, educate the girls. To me, that's my top priority. Of any intervention, this one, of fertilizers, or anything you can think of, that is -- that is the long run, most important one, and then all these other ones, malaria net, schools, so on -- committed.
There's a lot of -- there's a lot of respect against as I said at the beginning. Nothing empowers woman like high crop yields. They get a lot of respect. I mean, this is -- in Japanese or Chinese terms will be face -- respect. You got the big a crop? Oh, look at that. And she did it all by herself. That is respect. And that's pretty important.
So other than the generally lower level of education, which is affecting women now, and the issues of tenure, I don't see any other problems. That they want to -- that they want to buy dresses when they begin to get some money -- absolutely, and so do the men, want to have better shirts and so on. We're seeing a change in the -- in the wardrobes of these people with time. They used to be rags before and now they're -- pretty smart clothing that they wear.
I think it's -- I think it's -- act on the things that work for women and girls. And we know there are certain things that do, obvious things like sanitary napkins and stuff like that. Act on those that work. And I think a lot of those things will disappear with time.
COLEMAN: I have terrible news, which is that it's 2:00, and we're supposed to wrap up. I know there are lots of other questions here. I think what we'll do is officially end right now and do just a lightning round of questions. Anybody who needs to leave -- we always -- we always do wrap up on time here at CFR, so if you need to leave, you're free to go. But I'm just going to take these one, two, three, four, five questions. If you can ask them extremely briefly, and we're going to take very quick, brief answers to the five questions.
QUESTIONER: Well, I'm brimming, so I'll have to be very disciplined. I'm going to focus on this issue of the -- of sustainability in the organization of production and how you capture the benefits, because in both of your models there's not a gender and age sustainability plan, and I separate women from girls. I think that's really important to do.
I would think that in both of your models -- and I see where they merge -- if you could make your investments in that graph in social capital -- in other words, creating collecting places where girls could meet -- there's a huge amount of energy in places like Northern Nigeria. You won't have schools and then use them as platforms which acquire the technologies, perhaps with self-financing or other kinds because girls have money, and then rent them out.
I think that basically there's a -- there's a playing it forward piece that is missing because the -- there's a social capital investment that can be made just before you reach that critical mass, which is very specific to females, particularly young females. Some of it could be linked to incentivizing things like girls being in school, and in secondary school, in other words, that which you incentivize in primary school. But I think that the social capital piece may make these models work a little better. I don't know what your thoughts are on that.
SANCHEZ: And let's take a few questions maybe.
COLEMAN: Yeah, we're just -- we're just going to take this last thing and answer them together.
QUESTIONER: You want my question?
QUESTIONER: OK. Mine's a very different question, which -- in fact, I have two questions that are interrelated. One is these are two obviously very successful, important efforts, but there are other efforts going on as well. Is there any organization that focuses on coordination and leveraging, the ideas that come out of the various organizations that are focused in this area? And then second, especially with the Millennium Village project, when you do pull out, is there any plan to have an ongoing research project so that you see over the longer period of time what the efficacy of the program has been?
SANCHEZ: OK, can we take some more?
QUESTIONER: Katherine -- hi, I'm Katherine Lucey. I'm with Solar Sister, which is a distribution for technology to the grassroots areas, specifically focusing on women. My question is -- Martin, on the design for the pumps, is -- you talked about the ergonomic design. Is there focus on making them ergonomically comfortable for women? I see mostly men doing the pumping and mostly women doing the spraying. Are these appropriate for women to do the pumping?
QUESTIONER: I would just like to focus on educational goals. The only project -- (off mic). That's what I -- you touched on the issue of sanitary napkins. This is something we have been working for a long time, and I think --
SANCHEZ: Issues of what? I'm sorry. I didn't hear.
FISHER: Sanitary napkins.
QUESTIONER: Sanity napkins.
SANCHEZ: Yeah, right.
QUESTIONER: We have found two problems in that. One is the disposal of them, and secondly, the lack of latrines in schools for girls. This is a major problem because so many schools have no latrines, and if they do, they only have common latrines for -- and this is a big reason why girls don't go to school. And I was wondering if in those programs in those schools they do incorporate latrines for girls as well. We all know the gender metric. We all know what the effect of girls' education is, and secondary schooling is the big problem.
COLEMAN: OK, latrines. and last question.
QUESTIONER: Really wasn't -- hi, Kristine Pearson, and I head Lifeline Energy. We design, manufacture and distribute a range of wind-up and solar-powered radios and now MP3 players for group listening and lights and solar panels for individual and family use. And I just wanted to make the point of a slight caution in that we distributed more than half a million radios over the last 12 years on a donations revenue stream, and all the things that were supposedly supposed to have gone wrong probably haven't gone wrong. We've had -- we're reaching -- oh, it's hard to actually know, but very conservatively 15 million listeners, and our focus are children.
We have 45 (million) to 50 million orphan children in sub-Saharan Africa, many of whom would have absolutely no access to information, schools, refugees and people who are ill or disabled.
So I certainly don't want to be critical of another model. Whatever works works. I just want to say that you can't use one model necessarily to work in -- across all areas and all aspects of development. It's so complex, and the problems are so intractable you have to look at different models for different -- for different things.
COLEMAN: Thank you. So we have social capital, the integration issue, efficacy after pullout, ergonomic design of sanitary facilities specifically for girls and distribution model.
SANCHEZ: And latrines.
COLEMAN: And you don't have to end -- latrines, sanitary slash latrines. You don't have to answer everything, but maybe just a -- two minutes of comment from both of you would be great.
SANCHEZ: OK, I'll answer the ones except the ergonomic one from my point of view. Social capital. As we -- as we mentioned, we have this -- in the primary schools in the older grades, the girls get together and have these women things that are meetings that do exactly what you say. And they're professionally supervised either by the teacher or one of the community workers in that. It's very, very important. There's no question about that.
Coordination with NGOs? Sadly, no. And boy, we have tried. When we at Columbia -- Columbia wouldn't allow us to get this money for some odd reason, which I still wonder -- we had to create an NGO called Millennium Promise to absorb the money for the millennium villages. And one of the first things we did -- had a retreat at Pocantico of the major NGOs, the CEOs of major NGOs, and we all agreed to do this and to do it with a GIS -- GIS based and to know where CARE is working and where Africa is working, and this and that and the other one. Nothing has happened.
And the worst -- so there -- we got a long way to go, and certainly there's a need for coordinating. I don't know how many thousands of NGOs are working in Haiti right now, but it's certainly in the thousands. And people are overwhelmed by that. So it's bad. Ongoing research in the millennium villages after we pull out -- what a great idea. Haven't thought of that. I'll take it up, absolutely. There should be -- maybe not at the scale but in some areas. Thank you very much for that idea.
Latrines in schools -- yes, and not only latrines in school, but specific latrines for boys and girls. And that's standard now. So the issue that you have -- girls and boys operate -- they don't want to be together when it comes to latrines. So there are always boys' and girls' latrine. Basically, all the -- all the schools are equipped with that now.
Radios -- sure, but if you give me a choice between buying a radio and buying a cheap cellphone, I would go for a cellphone. I think it's much more powerful than the radio. But the radios are there, are spoken in the local languages, and most of those families are -- do have radios. You hear the noise. So it's a good thing, but as I said, if I had my money, I would put it on a -- on a $10 cellphone.
QUESTIONER: That wasn't my point though.
FISHER: Yeah, yeah, I got it, yeah.
QUESTIONER: Yeah, that wasn't my point.
SANCHEZ: OK, so I'm finished.
FISHER: OK, so just in terms of sort of social capital and for girls, just to say yeah, we don't do that directly. On the other hand, you know, we do know of something probably -- probably close to 80,000 girls are in school as a result of our program for the first time in school. And we have worked with CAMFED. You probably -- many of you know CAMFED probably where now they have girls who -- graduating from secondary school. And we've gone down and actually trained these girls because the big challenge is you graduate from secondary school and there's no jobs. So what do you do? So we've actually done some entrepreneurial training and training on our pumps and say look, you can actually go back to your rural area and become a commercial farmer using our pumps.
In terms of other efforts, coordinating of efforts, it's a -- it's a good question. There are small efforts going on, especially in the social enterprise space, which I'm more familiar with than the -- than the general NGO space. And there -- there's organizations like Milagro Foundation and Rainer Arnhold's fellowship program where they're actually bringing together some of the very, very best top performing social enterprises with a bunch of donors and trying to coordinate their efforts between donors and social entrepreneurs.
And then, of course, partnerships -- we do a lot of partnering on the ground with a lot of other NGOs and organizations, and we've actually tried to partner with you guys, but --
FISHER: -- have -- and we do it in an informal way.
SANCHEZ: We do in an informal way, yeah, yeah.
FISHER: Ergonomics for women -- absolutely. We test these pumps on women, with woman, and a huge number of times -- I mean, I have a couple of pictures here, but a huge number of times of woman users as well pumping. And especially, the hip pump is interesting.
That was -- if you -- if you think about the hand pump, which would be operated with your arms, your arms get very, very tired, and only a very fit man could do that. By going to this hip pump, it's a rotary motion. You're using -- it's much more what the women tend to do where they're in the field doing this. They have very strong upper bodies and body motion, and they actually really like that hip pump. But even the treadle pump -- absolutely. It's used by a lot of women.
I'm not going to comment on latrines. And in terms of Kristine's point, I think there's absolutely times where handouts are necessary, and I would say, you know, in public health there's very good reason to do handouts. If you're trying to get rid of malaria, it makes sense to be giving away mosquito nets. If your exit strategy is to get rid of malaria, if your exit strategy is to manage malaria, you might argue you should be selling them instead of giving them away. But there's certainly -- and in emergencies and when you're dealing with the real -- very, very poorest people and orphans and other people, there's certainly still space in -- out there for giveaways.
Nonetheless, there's a huge amount of development which can be solved through business solutions. And I think, you know, over the years and of the 30, 40 years that people have been doing development, or even probably 50 years now, it's really been weighted very, very heavily on the side of giveaways and very little on the side of business solutions for development.
And it's fantastic to hear that millennium villages, which actually started off much more on a giveaway program is now much more moving into business solutions. Because I had earlier discussions with Jeffrey Sachs about this, and he really wasn't interested in business solutions six or seven years ago, but now it's great to see that that's the way they're going.
SANCHEZ: (Off mic.)
FISHER: Because that -- in the long term that's what's sustainable --
FISHER: -- people making money, people creating jobs, people having jobs, people having money so they can buy their radios, so then they can buy their clean water, so they can pay for education, pay for healthcare. That's what's sustainable, and the more money people have, the more businesses can come up to provide those services.
COLEMAN: Well, as I said in the beginning, I've learned so much from these three series of meetings, and I'm so glad that both of you were able to join us here today. This has been fascinating. Normally, we do wrap-up exactly on time. I'm sorry to go over, but I think it was worth it today.
SANCHEZ: (Laughs.) It's OK.
COLEMAN: So thank you both so much. Thank you all for coming. (Applause.)
This roundtable looked at successful and sustainable agricultural innovations used to enhance productivity and women's income-generating abilities in the developing world.
This roundtable, part of the ExxonMobil Women and Development Series, looked at successful and sustainable agricultural innovations used to enhance productivity and women's income-generating abilities in the developing world.
What CFR.org Editors are reading the week of March 2–6, 2015.