Martin is co-founder of Kickstart (formerly Approtec), an organization designing products for the bottom of the pyramid. As opposed to C.K. Prahalad who tends to describe the poor as consumers (see sachet marketing), Martin views the poor as investors. I met him at the ID Design Strategy conference this past week where he told me, “everyone has the same basic need: a way to make money.” So Kickstart researches what the poor in Africa need to make money. Because subsistence farming is common, Kickstart designed a pump that allows farmers to irrigate crops using nearby streams or wells, dramatically increasing crop output and helping the poor enter the middle class. They’ve created other products to help the poor create bricks, hay bales, cooking oil, and so on. By designing inexpensive products and selling them, it ensures the technology finds its way into the hands of people who will use it, a model sustainable beyond charity.
If design is our attempt to ‘change existing situations into preferred ones‘ then Martin was the best designer at the conference.