Seeing the Poor as Customers

Seeing the Poor as Customers

Paul Polak leads a talk on affordable technology design for developing areas <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/poptech2006/2966654473/">KrisKrug (flickr)</a>
Paul Polak leads a talk on affordable technology design for developing areas KrisKrug (flickr)

"Most 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," writes BusinessWeek. "But Paul Polak sees market failure."

Paul Polak is a 75-year-old former psychiatrist who founded a non-profit called International Development Enterprises. He calls himself a "Global Poverty Fighter."

For the past 25 years, Polak has worked with small farmers in developing countries to provide low-cost products that support self-sufficiency — drip irrigation products for small farmers with limited access to water, rice fertilizer to increase yields, and water-storage products that can be used in extreme temperatures.

An entrepreneur at heart, Polak believes in approaching the poor as customers — not charity recipients. He says 17 million people have climbed out of poverty thanks to his inventions.

Watch to learn more about Polak's entrepreneurial approach to fighting poverty.

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