The group operates in a series of organized steps. First, it identifies viable enterprises that can be established by local entrepreneurs with limited capital investments. Then ApproTEC designs and develops equipment and business plans required for those enterprises to succeed. Next, they ensure that the new equipment--which must be affordable, easy to operate, durable, and manually operated--can be mass-produced locally. ApproTEC then buys the equipment back from the manufacturers, helps people set up retail shops, promotes the technologies among locals, and educates them about how use and repair the new tools.
ApproTEC’s most popular device, the appropriately named Super-MoneyMaker, is a $75 foot-operated irrigation pump that allows farmers to drastically increase tillable area, allowing subsistence farmers to harvest surplus crops, which can then be sold at market. Several success stories have been logged, and one about an impoverished widow who was able to transform her horticulture business from a $93-a-season subsistence into a 5-person operation is particularly telling. With the 3400% profit she made with her Super-MoneyMaker, she was able to send her children to school, instead of into the fields.
ApproTEC’s plan is straightforward, but their work is hard. Thanks to their diligence, it’s starting to pay off. Since 1991, more than 33,000 MoneyMakers have been sold, generating more than $35 million and creating 16,000 new paid jobs. Subsistence farming in Eastern Africa will never allow the local population to get ahead. But ApproTEC’s ideas into action are indeed helping self-motivated private entrepreneurs manage small-scale enterprises—a highly effective way of developing and fortifying the local economy and quality of life.
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