Senior Solar Pump Product Manager

KickStart International
Nairobi, Kenya
Apply by 26 May 2018
Mid-level , Full-time staff position
Posted on 26 April 2018

Job Description

Are you an experienced Product Manager

looking to make a huge difference in the world?

We are looking for a Senior Product Manager with proven experience taking a physical product from a proven prototype to final mass-production, marketing, distribution and sales.

We are designing a transformative low-cost Solar Electric Irrigation Pump that will enable millions of small-scale farmers across Africa to irrigate their fields, grow and sell high value crops through-out the year, and escape poverty.

Join an award winning social enterprise—with proven impacts designing and mass-marketing irrigation pumps across Africa—and a unique private sector design team, to develop and launch this life-changing product.

If you think you have the relevant human-centred-design, product and market testing, product pricing, production planning, distribution, mass-marketing and customer-care experience and skills as a product manager and project manager; and you are looking to make a real difference and have an adventure; then we would love to talk to you. If you have developed and managed a solar electric product for the rural African market, then even better.

The job will be based in Nairobi, Kenya with travel around Africa the US and China.

Please send a letter of introduction & CV to the e-mail address in the posting with the subject ‘Solar Product Manager’. Tell us why this job interests you, and why you believe you are the ideal candidate.

See below for full job description:


The Senior Solar Pump Product Manager will be the overall coordinator, and project manager, of a cross-functional product development team for KickStart’s new Solar Irrigation Pump, with the goal of ensuring a high quality, on-time and on-budget product launch and delivery. The successful candidate will oversee KickStart’s Solar Pump development, manufacturing and sales process including: developing and managing field and market tests, market segmentation and sales projections; facilitating the final product and accessory design based on research and tests; developing and overseeing the manufacturing, branding, packaging, collateral, QC, pricing and shipping plans from initial production to launch and scale-up; developing plans for market roll-out and after sales service; and curating design changes for next-generation improvements and end of life strategy.

The successful introduction of a new very low-cost Solar Pump will enable millions of small-scale farmers in Africa and elsewhere to irrigate their land, grow and sell high value crops throughout the year and climb out of poverty.


Reports to: Chief Executive Officer

Staff directly reporting to this post: None

Works with: The solar pump’s unique private sector design team and KickStart’s product design/development, field innovations, marketing, sales, supply-chain, IT and finance teams along with critical supply chain stakeholders and development partners in the US, China, Africa and elsewhere.


The Senior Solar Pump Product Manager; will take the lead on coordinating, project managing and overseeing the development of KickStart’s new very low-cost, flat-packed, plug-and-play, solar irrigation pump from proven prototype to final design, mass-production, distribution, marketing, sales and customer care.

Key Job Responsibilities will include, to coordinate, project manage and/or implement all of the following:

  • Finalize and model the overall business case, product life cycle and roll-out strategy for the new solar pump – from prototype to mass market launch and distribution across Africa and elsewhere. Including analysis of the market potential, user benefits and business case for KickStart.
  • Carry out market research by visiting small-scale farmers and KickStart’s distribution partners, and reviewing relevant research, to gain a full understanding of the customer’s desires/needs in relation to the product’s design-criteria.
  • Develop and help implement field and market tests to gain an understanding of the product’s performance, the market demands and required refinements of the product’s attributes.
  • Track competing products and comparative advantages and values. Performing and managing tests and analysis of the products and their service offerings.
  • Oversee the final design of the new pump and coordinate the cross-functional product-development-to-launch teams to ensure that the product’s functionality, efficiency, cost structure, aesthetics, ergonomics etc. meet the market demand. Facilitating key decisions on the electronics, cabling, hoses, switches and solar panels. Working with the unique product design team in the US and with KickStart’s senior management, product design, field innovations, sales, marketing, finance, and IT teams, along with the manufacturers and supply-chain players in Chicago, China, Africa and/or elsewhere.
  • Facilitate design decisions on critical accessoriesg. backpack carrier, cell phone charger, PAYG option, possible battery charging and/or an included battery option, nozzle, sprinklers, packaging.
  • Coordinate collateral design and production including branding, packaging, manuals and training materials.
  • Establish mass-production, bundling and distribution of the pump, accessories and collateral. Including facilitating decisions-on and contracting with chosen parties on sourcing, manufacture, production, assembly, bundling, packing, branding and shipping to ensure on-time and on-budget launch of new product.
  • Establish quality control systems/procedures with the manufacturers
  • Establish pricing strategies/policies based on cost structures, distribution costs, margins and market demand
  • Develop the market launch strategy with KickStart’s partners and distributors, including decisions on countries, locations, partners, methods, timelines and communication strategies
  • Develop after-sales/customer-care strategies including plans for phasing and roll-out of the services.
  • Coordinate production and distribution of marketing messaging and advertising to farmers, partners, donors and other stakeholders.
  • Update sales and cash-flow forecasting based on market intelligence, early sales and roll-out strategies
  • Review product uptake and adjusting tactics to help meet sales targets.
  • Develop of a solar pump product road-map/pipeline for follow-on products and accessories
  • Represent KickStart at strategic forums to promote the new pump


  • Proven experience in full life-cycle physical-product management and project management from prototype to market launch and aftersales service. Preferably experience managing the development and rollout of a new product targeting bottom-of-the-pyramid customers in Africa or another developing country setting. Having worked on a solar electric product will be an added advantage.
  • Proven ability to work with engineers (mechanical and electrical), designers, manufacturers and sales teams to establish and manage a complex product development, manufacturing and supply chain process.
  • Proven experience working with, coordinating and managing activities of cross-functional teams
  • Proven experience in developing product roadmaps
  • Proven self-starter with leadership skills
  • Ability to both think strategically and get into the critical details
  • Undergraduate degree required. Masters preferred. In engineering
  • English speaker required. French, Kiswahili and/or Portuguese a plus.


  • Passionate about KickStart’s Mission and commitment to KickStart’s Core Values
  • Understanding and experience of poor, rural, small-scale farmers
  • Demonstrated ability to work in a collaborative team environment with diverse people and multi-stakeholders across multiple geographies
  • Strong verbal and written communications skills and excellent interpersonal and leadership skills
  • Strong analytical understanding and skills, preferably including engineering knowledge of solar and electro-mechanical devices, and strong Microsoft Excel modelling skills
  • Cross-cultural experience, understanding and sensitivity;
  • Hands on and self-driven
  • Proven ability to handle challenging work load
  • Willingness and ability to travel

To Apply:

Please send a letter of introduction & CV with the subject ‘Solar Product Manager’. Tell us why this job interests you, and why you believe you are the ideal candidate.

About the Organization

KickStart International ( is an award-winning, nonprofit social enterprise with a mission to lift millions of people in Africa out of poverty quickly, cost-effectively, and sustainably. They do this by designing and mass-marketing simple, clean-energy, “MoneyMaker” branded, irrigation pumps. Rural families living in poverty invest in these low-cost pumps to move from rain-fed-subsistence farming to commercial irrigated agriculture. They grow and sell high value crops throughout the year—especially in the long dry “hungry” seasons when food is scarce and prices are highest—and on average increase their net income from irrigation alone by $700. For the first time, they can properly feed and educate their children, afford healthcare, and plan for their futures.

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