Getting Out of Poverty with Paul Polak

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What are the best approaches to eradicating poverty when traditional means fail?

Paul Polak, Out of Poverty

Paul Polak is widely regarded as the father of market-centered approaches to development. Over the past 30 years, he has had long conversations with more than 3,000 small farmers who live on less than $1 a day and walked with them through their fields. He is the founder of IDE, which has now enabled 20 million of the world’s poorest people to move out of poverty by selling them radically affordable irrigation tools made available through thousands of small village manufacturers, dealers, and well drillers, and opening smallholder access to markets where they could sell their crops at a profit.

Paul’s book, Out of Poverty: What Works When Traditional Approaches Fail, has been widely used as a basic text on practical solutions to rural poverty. He is the founder and CEO of Windhorse International and cofounder and board chairman of Spring Health India, for-profit companies with the mission of bringing safe drinking water to 100 million poor rural customers in the world. Paul is the prime mover for creating and implementing the four social impact multinationals in this book, each designed to transform the lives of 100 million $2-per-day customers and generate annual sales of $10 billion.

A former psychiatrist, farmer and investor, Paul’s vision inspired the Smithsonian’s Cooper Hewitt traveling exhibit, Design for the Other 90 Percent. He was named by The Atlantic as one of the world’s 27 “Brave Thinkers,” along with Steve Jobs and Barack Obama. He has also received the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year award and the Scientific American Top 50 award for agricultural policy.

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