Paul Polak in the news!

Video Posts


Google Hangout with Paul Polak
By Devin Thorpe December 9, 2013


Spring Health

Jacob Mathew Interview on Chai with Lakshmi
Good Water for India
Interview by Lakshmi Rebecca November 21, 2013


Aspen Institute

Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs Panel
November 13, 2013



Paul’s Talk at SOCAP13 (12 minutes)
September 5, 2013


World Economic Forum

Interview by Paula Escobar (30 minutes)
Interview by Paula Escobar April 25, 2013



Eyeglasses for the World
By Paul Polak January 30, 2014


Foreign Policy Blog

Curb Your Social Entrepreneurial Enthusiasm
By Daniel Altman December 24, 2013



Paul Polak Shares Tips For Finding ‘The Business Solution To Poverty’
By Esha Chabra, Ashoka December 13, 2013


Investors Business Daily

Boosting Your Business is a Good Way to Feed Hungry
By Amy Alexander November 19, 2013


Poets & Quants

A Frontier Economy for Adventurous MBAs
By Lauren Everitt, November 11, 2013



Eight Keys to Ending Poverty
By Devex Impact Editor November 5, 2013



End Poverty or Bust
By Paul Polak October 22, 2013



Serving the Underserved: Marketing to Make a Difference
By Patrick Hanlon October 21, 2013



Good Business: How to Design a Company that Really Helps the Poor
October 12, 2013


Business Week Logo

Feature on Affordable Solar Village Solar
By Nick Leiber October 10, 2013



Can Business Solve Poverty?
By Alice Korngold October 3, 2013



Belane Magazine, Switzerland

Paul Polak: The Rebel
By Paula Escobar September 30, 2013


modern farmer

Why We Should Treat Poor, Rural Farmers as Customers Instead of Charity Cases
By Gloria Dawson September 23, 2013


Can Business Solve Poverty

By Alice Korngold October 3, 2013



There’s Still a Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid

By Matthew Budman Fall 2013



Business Week LogoFeature on Affordable Solar Village Solar

By Nick Leiber October 10, 2013


Eight Keys to Ending Poverty

By Devex Impact Editor November 5, 2013


Innovative Designs, Better Development

By David Lepeska March 23, 2009








Foreign Policy Blog
Curb Your Social Entrepreneurial Enthusiasm

By Daniel Altman December 24, 2013


Video Posts:





Paul’s Talk at SOCAP13 (12 minutes)

September 5, 2013



World Economic Forum Interview by Paula Escobar (30 minutes)

Interview by Paula Escobar April 25, 2013






Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs Panel

November 13, 2013


Interview with Jacob Mathew, Spring Health on Chai with Lakshmi



New York Times Logo

An Entrepreneur Creating Chances at a Better Life

by Donald G. McNeil Jr, Sep 26 2011For 30 years Dr. Polak, a 78-year-old former psychiatrist, has focused on creating devices that will improve the lives of 2.6 billion people living on less than $2 a day.

Christian Science Monitor

Paul Polak – Developing Products for ‘the Other 90 percent’

by Esha Chabra, September 28 2011Polak’s been doing this work long before the term “social entrepreneur” became mainstream. He’s a 30-year veteran who’s traveled endlessly from his Colorado home to interact with his customers.

CNN News

Bringing Solar Light Bulbs to the World

by Jim Spellman, CNN August 14, 2011 “It wasn’t until after we created it that we asked ourselves, ‘How do we market this,'” Katsaros says. “And we learned that the largest market was the developing world.”

Disruptive Startups That Don’t Get Funded

by Vivek Wadhwa July 28, 2011″Coca-Cola (KO) sells millions of bottles of its fizzy sugar water in the poorest villages of the world at 15¢ to 25¢ per bottle—prices locals can barely afford. What would happen to the multinational’s business if a well-funded Chinese soft drink startup decided to crash that market with a sweet but relatively nutritious beverage it sold for 5¢ a bottle?”


Yogurt or cucumber?

February 21, 2008A wise and engaging new book. A former psychiatrist, he listens intently to poor people before allowing his mind to run over with tricks, gambits and contraptions that might help them.

Paul Polak, Tackling Global Poverty His Own Way

April 23 , 2008His perhaps-surprising conclusion: Government subsidies for the rural poor often make things worse. Instead, Polak teaches families and farmers — many of whom live on a dollar a day and own perhaps an acre of land — how to increase crop yields with simple technologies, such as cheap, foot-operated water pumps and inexpensive drip hoses for irrigation.

Paul Polak: Global Poverty Fighter

January 12, 2009Most of us look at the 1 billion men, women, and children in the world who live on less than a dollar a day and see poor people. Paul Polak sees market failure. He sees 1 billion potential entrepreneurs who would rather earn money than accept handouts, if given the opportunity. And if companies would develop the products these people needed, he sees 1 billion potential customers as well.

Giving the Poor a Means to Work

February 22, 2008Polak tells the stories of individual farmers like Krishna Bahadur Thapa, a Nepali who increased his family’s annual income from an average of $100 to more than $500. Such anecdotes are woven together with charts of hard data showing IDE’s impact, and practical, straightforward advice for organizations, businesses, and governments wishing to follow IDE’s approach. The book is part policy rant, part case-study, part how-to, and it is anything but depressing.


Trickle-Up Economics

June 20, 2005″His first big success was bringing the treadle pump to Bangladesh. Costing $25, it works like a StairMaster: Farmers pump shallow groundwater directly onto crops using the energy of their legs.”

National Geographic

Water Pressure on Assignment

September 2002“I thought American water wizard Paul Polak was half-mad when I was chasing him around the Zambian countryside as he tried to bring cheap irrigation systems to small farmers. But Polak is an admirable character, and it was good fun trailing behind this dynamo.”

Scientific American

Paul Polak, leader in Scientific American top 50

September 2005″American entrepreneur and philanthropist, Dr. Paul Polak, is named by Scientific American magazine as one of the Scientific American 50- the noted magazine’s second annual list recognizing outstanding acts of leadership in technology from 2003.”

American pumps up Third World farmers’ income

February 13, 2008Polak, a self-described “opportunist and entrepreneur,” still works 80-hour weeks at age 74. “I’m an Energizer bunny type,” he said in an interview. “It’s not that I’m killing myself working; I’m doing what I love.”

The New York Times

Design That Solves Problems for the World’s Poor

May 29, 2007“The world’s cleverest designers, said Dr. Polak, a former psychiatrist who now runs an organization helping poor farmers become entrepreneurs, cater to the globe’s richest 10 percent, creating items like wine labels, couture and Maseratis.”

wall street journal

The Giving Guide: Small Ways to Make a Big Difference

November 30, 2007“Its [International Development Enterprises] methods are influenced by its American founder Paul Polak’s earlier career in psychiatry: He figures the best way to help is to get inside the end-user’s head by going where farmers live and work to understand their daily routines.”

wall street journal

How Innovative Devices Can Boost Poor Farmers, Entrepreneurs

May 18, 2007“You have a whole different range of affordability when you’re surviving on a dollar a day. We see it a little differently on quality versus affordability. People will pick a product that only lasts two years if it’s cheap. But some of the design principles are the same [as when you design for the rich] — you look at a tool and identify the key contributors to cost and look at ways to design around them.”

Towards low-tech, high-value solutions for disabilities

June 2008“Today, the world needs not one, but a hundred such labs,” says development guru Paul Polak, author of the recent book Out of Poverty. Ideally, at least half of these labs should be located in the developing countries where millions need inexpensive technology to improve the quality of their lives, he adds.

The ‘Bottom Billion’

March 30, 2008How can big business help the world’s poorest people? Two concepts, affordability and free market delivery, may hold the key.

herald tribune

Prescriptions for helping poor people help themselves

February 25, 2008He describes his experiences and the lessons learned in his book, as well as prescribing his formula for ending poverty, which boils down to helping poor people to help themselves, with design playing an important supporting role in their self-improvement.

herald tribune

International Herald Tribune

April 29, 2007″There are 6.5 billion people on this planet, 90 percent of whom can’t afford basic products and services. Half of them, nearly three billion people, don’t have regular access to food, shelter or clean water. Yet whenever we think, or talk, about design, it’s invariably about something that’s intended to be sold to one of the privileged minority – the richest 10 percent.”

Doctor’s irrigation device helps rural poor harvest prosperity

February 24, 2008″Paul’s shown what one person with determination can achieve, and it’s more than you’d ever have imagined,” said Dr. J. Gary May, a Denver psychiatrist who’s known Polak since the ’70s.Polak, a self-described “opportunist and entrepreneur,” still works 80-hour weeks at age 74.”I’m an Energizer bunny type,” he said. “It’s not that I’m killing myself working; I’m doing what I love.”

Escaping Poverty

August 2008 IssuePoor people have to make an investment of their own time and money to move out of poverty. You can help them by removing constraints. Many of the current approaches to poverty assume you have to give them a large number of things. But there are no sustainable impacts once the money stops.


Geared for Change: Products for the Impoverished

February 19, 2008How does a bicycle generator help someone earn a living? Imagine pedaling from village to village, storing electricity in a battery along the way and then charging people’s cellphones for a few cents a pop.

Paul Polak is interviewed on ‘SqueezePlay’

June 17, 2008BNN – Business News Network is Canada’s only all business specialty channel. Simplicity Saves the Day: BNN speaks with Paul Polak, founder, International Development Enterprises and author, “Out of Poverty.” Click here to watch.

Paul Polak is interviewed on ‘The Hour’ with George Stroumboulopoulos, Tuesday June 10th at 11pm, on CBC

June 2008The Hour is a national current affairs show on CBC television hosted by George Stroumboulopoulos. It’s not a newscast. It’s not a magazine show. The Hour a different take on the news through the lens of George and company. While news shows cover the issues of the day, The Hour dissects the issues within the issues. Always unconventional. Often controversial. Never predictable. Click here to watch.

Smart design for people who need it

May 23, 2008Polak, author of the book “Out of Poverty” believes that rather than handing out aid to people in need, it’s better to come up with affordable solutions that allow people to help themselves. He says cheap, simple devices can have a tremendous impact. Click here to listen.

Book Review

Spring Issue 2008Paul Hudnut reviews Out of Poverty: experience in the fields and villages, and Polak’s knack for writing entertaining and instructive stories, are the book’s greatest strengths; and they’re a good reason why entrepreneurs, designers, and students working on water filters, laptops, solar lanterns, and other products designed to help the poor increase their income or reduce the drudgery of their lives should read this book. As for investors, teachers, policymakers, and others intrigued by alternatives to traditional approaches to international development—the book will surely provide inspiring examples of enterprise’s great power to lift people “out of poverty.”

A simple device helps millions

February 16, 2008If there’s a limit to what one person can do about Third World poverty, Paul Polak hasn’t found it. For 25 years, he’s been the Johnny Appleseed of the treadle pump, a simple foot-powered irrigation device that’s enabled millions of farmers making $1 a day in places such as Bangladesh and Zambia to produce bigger crops and earn more. Top Design for the Truly NeedyFebruary 9, 2008″A billion customers in the world are waiting for a $2 pair of eyeglasses, a $10 solar lantern and a $100 house,” Dr Paul Polak, a former psychiatrist who now runs a organisation that helps poor farmers become entrepreneurs, told the New York Times. ”

OCAD launches Art & Design Society with talk by author Dr. Paul Polak

June 2008″As an inspiration for this acclaimed exhibition, Dr. Polak will provide a uniquely insightful discussion about global poverty,” said Charles Reeve, Curator of the Professional Gallery.

Polak encourages grads to make a difference

June 9, 2008″Some people call me a contrarian, but I like to take the opposite view.” With this dry humour, Paul Polak speaks to graduates from the faculties of Graduate Studies, Health Sciences (Nursing) along with Brescia University College and Huron University College at the June 9 afternoon session of Western’s 291st Convocation. Click here to listen.

Q&A With Paul Polak

November/December 2008Can well-designed farm tools and water systems change the world? The founder of International Development Enterprises and D-Rev thinks so.

Paul Polak: 15 Rules for Business Success in Any Market

November 1, 2008″[Paul’ Polak’s first [business] was a strawberry distribution operation in his hometown of Millgrove, Ontario. Later Polak prospected in real estate and oil and made millions. In 1981, he invested the proceeds into a nonprofit incubator of sorts called International Development Enterprises.” Now, based on his varied business experience, Polak presents his 15 Rules for Business Success in any market.

CUSP Conference

June 2008Cusp Conference 2008 – a conference about vision, passion, imagination, energy, innovation, and the “design of everything.” Presenters to date include architect/artist Adam Kalkin, digital pioneer/filmmaker Douglas Gayeton, poverty fighter Paul Polak, eco-scientist Dr. Carl Hodges, musician/digital artist Kirsty Hawkshaw, and environmental attorney Robert F Kennedy Jr.

A Day at the International Development Design Summit

July 25, 2008Paul came to IDDS on a mission – help the early stage companies think through their business plan from the get go. Too often, scientists and engineers think about the business side of things late in the game, haphazardly bolting it on to the finished product, so to speak. Paul’s mission: bake the business stuff into the product now, at IDDS.

Creating Ways for Very Poor People to Make More Money

March 2008″There can be no question that the most direct and cost-effective first step out of poverty is to find ways to help poor people to increase their income,” argues Paul Polak.

Poveri Ma Ricchi

July 2008L’espresso is a Italian weekly news magazine with national distribution. It is one of the two most prominent Italian weeklies. L’espresso enjoys the reputation of being the main politically independent newsmagazine in Italy. It currently has a circulation of 1.29 million.

World Resources Institute:

February 6, 2008″The book is certainly worth a read, and I hope to see it appear on the development academics’ reading lists soon. Out of Poverty gets beyond the fractious discussions of “what’s gone wrong?” or “which approach is right?” and offers a welcome dose of common sense for getting people out of poverty, quickly and permanently.”

Baylor Hosts Noted Entrepreneurs, Philanthropists

and Authors on Global Poverty

October 20, 2008Since 1981, IDE has pioneered the development and marketing of affordable income enhancing technology within developing countries. In 2004, the Technology Museum of Innovation named IDE a laureate for its development of “Easy-Drip,” an affordable micro-irrigation system. In 2003, Polak was named one of Scientific American’s top 50 innovators for his work in market-based poverty alleviation. He also received Ernst & Young’s “2004” Entrepreneur of the Year” award in the social responsibility category.

Gamechanger of the Month: July 2008

July 31, 2008Paul Polak, founder of International Development Enterprises and the author of Out of Poverty, has been battling poverty in development countries for 23 years by helping poor farmers eke out a better living off the land. IDE operates on a local level, dealing with grass-roots problems and building markets for locally-manufactured solutions. This self-sustaining model has resulted in cleaner drinking water, better efficiency in agriculture, improved health and better standards of living for millions of people around the world.

The Treadle Pump

October 12, 2008The North Blog discusses Norwegian inventions like the treadle pump, originally engineered by Gunnar Bårnes. Paul Polak’s contributions are discussed and the blog includes a YouTube video featuring International Development Enterprises-India demonstrating the effects of treadle pumps in rural Uttar Pradesh. Click here to watch.

pop tech

Pop!Tech Pop!Cast Video

December 2007″In this video Paul explains how he “has worked for decades to help the world escape the devastating effects of poverty through facilitating income generation. Polak works from the base knowledge that lack of water, particularly clean water, is the cornerstone of poverty.”

Cornnell’s eClips Interviews with Paul Polak

2008Cornell’s eClips interviewed Paul Polak on a few separate occasions. In one interview Polak discusses the creation of his non-profit, IDE and also states the importance of developing cost effective solutions to help alleviate poverty. In addition, Polak also takes the position that solutions should be created to treat those in need as customers and not charity cases. In a subsequent interview, Polak discusses the creation of his most recent non-profit D-Rev: Design for the Other 90%. All three interviews can be found at the link listed above.

Activist Paul Polak Offers Low Tech Solutions for Hunger, Poverty

May 19 , 2008Social activist Paul Polak says simple technology can make small farms more efficient and relieve hunger and poverty in the developing world. Mike O’Sullivan reports that Polak, in his recent book called Out of Poverty, says affordable low-tech products can turn small-plot farms into profitable businesses.

Books Inc.
San Francisco, CA

April 14 , 2008Meet Paul Polak author of Out of Poverty: What Works When Traditional Approaches Fail that explodes what he calls the “Three Great Poverty Eradication Myths”: that we can donate people out of poverty, that national economic growth will end poverty, and that Big Business, operating as it does now, will end poverty – Books Inc.

The Design Revolution

March 10, 2008″There is something about the essential practicality and common sense with which Polak presents his case that makes it easy to see how it’s possible to help him make it work.”

Servant Entrepreneur


Excerpt from Paul Polak’s Book, Out of Poverty

November 24, 2008This book is full of life principles. It is the best book I have read in a long time. Out of Poverty teaches us to think simple. Paul Polak brings forward ideas and solutions that bypass government agencies and other leaden institutions. Ideas that work!


Leave a Reply