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KickStart International CEO Martin Fisher Receives Clarkson University Honorary Degree

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Martin J. Fisher, co-founder and CEO of KickStart International, received an honorary doctor of science degree at Clarkson University’s 117th Commencement today.KickStart International CEO Martin Fisher Receives Clarkson University Honorary Degree

The degree was awarded for his "remarkable vision and his innovative approach to alleviating poverty in Africa and the developing world by bringing together the power of technology and the entrepreneurial spirit of the world’s poor; and his steadfast commitment to sustainability and the use of technology to improve society and serve humanity."

In addressing the Class of 2009, Fisher said, "Firstly, never be handcuffed by the expectations of others, most likely all they really want anyway is for you to be happy. Secondly, always allow yourself to chase your dreams, and value and use your education. If you have a chance to get more then go for it because one person with an education really can make a difference. And if you get an opportunity to work on one of the world’s biggest problems, take it. And if you don’t then ask yourself: what can I do to make the world a better place?

"And finally, whatever you do in life, always ask the tough questions and tell yourself: there must be a better way, and I can find it.

"And then go out and make it happen."

KickStart International is an award-winning social enterprise which has helped more than 466,000 people escape poverty permanently. Fisher and co-founder Nick Moon have created an innovative approach to fighting poverty that brings together the power of technology and the entrepreneurial spirit of the world’s poor.

After receiving his Ph.D., Fisher won a Fulbright Fellowship to study the Appropriate Technology Movement in Kenya. A 10-month fellowship turned into 17 years of fighting poverty in Africa. The lessons about what works, and what does not, formed the foundation of KickStart.

Fisher leads a team of designers and engineers to create a number of money-making tools. The most successful have been KickStart’s human-powered MoneyMaker irrigation pumps, with over 145,000 sold to date. Individually, users of KickStart’s pumps see an average 10-fold increase in farm income. Combined, users of KickStart tools are generating over $94 million in new profits and wages each year.

Fisher holds a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from Cornell University. He earned both a master of science in mechanical engineering and a Ph.D. in theoretical and applied mechanics from Stanford University.

Fisher is a frequent conference presenter on topics of social entrepreneurship, design, poverty, water and related issues. He serves on the board of BuildChange, and the advisory boards of the XPrize, and the Global Social Benefit Incubator at Santa Clara University. Fisher won the Lemelson-MIT Award for Sustainability in 2008.

KickStart International is an award-winning, U.S. based, nonprofit social enterprise with a revolutionary solution to alleviating poverty. They design and mass market, simple, money-making tools and technologies that open up business opportunities to poor entrepreneurs in Sub-Saharan Africa and the developing world. Their mission is to get millions of people out of poverty quickly, cost-effectively and sustainably. And, in doing so, change the way the world fights poverty. KickStart won the Peter F. Drucker Award for Nonprofit Innovation in 2008

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in six alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or]

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