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Pumping life into agriculture

Pumping life into agriculture
Co Founder of Proximity Designs Debbie Aung Din Taylor after receiving the award at Kilden Concert Hall.

This year's Help to self help award goes to Proximity Designs from Myanmar.

The award was presented at an event yesterday.

The company, based in Yangoon in Myanmar, receives the prize for its social entrepreneurship, and their innovative and modern way to combat poverty.

- The majority of farmers in Myanmar remain deeply isolated and underserved by the government and the markets, Co Founder of Proximity Designs Debbie Aung Din Taylor says.

- Small farms are the epicenter of extreme poverty. They are the backbone of the rural economy. Proximity Designs focus on them as our main market. We are helping small-holder farmers to leap-frog the challenges. Human-centred design is based on empathy not sympathy, convenience and quality as well as aesthetic design.

The company is widely known for finding new solutions to old problems. Through using modern design, they develop and produce good, robust and cheap solutions to big challenges. A foot pump that distributes water to fields in a simple and time effective way ha become one of the company's most popular products.

- Our mission is to help farmers transform their lives by increased income, and so far we have reached 964.000 farmers, Aung Din Taylor says.

Priorities
Mann, Myanmar, trøpumpeWith their increased income, farmers’ top three priorities are:
1. Extra food/protein for the family
2. Seeds and inputs
3. Investing in children’s education

Proximity Designs test their prototypes with the farmers at an early stage to get honest feedback. 
- Give people choice and dignity, and a mutual relationship between customer and seller emerges. Proximity Designs are held accountable by the market, and if customers don’t want their products, they won’t buy them, Aung Din Taylor says.

- It’s not rocket science. We need to take the time to listen to the customers, the small-hold farmers, and what their needs are.

Proximity also engages directly with government – at the macro-economic level, sharing their research. 

Growing company
Proxiity Designs was founded in Myanmar in 2004, and has since then grown into a big corporation with more than 350 employees nation wide. The produts they represent vary from agricultural foot pumps, solar panels and financial services.

The Help to self help award is the twelvth of its kind. The winner will receive 100.000 NOK and will be awarded in Kristiansand on September 13th.

Read more about Proximity Design.