Dr. Paul Polak is Founder and CEO of Windhorse International and Paul Polak Enterprises, two corporations that will serve as a platform for the formation of new frontier multinationals. Dr. Polak is starting these new social ventures with the mission of inspiring and leading a revolution in how companies design, price, market and distribute products to benefit the 2.6 billion customers who live on less than $2 a day, combining radically affordable technology with radically decentralized supply chains to earn profits serving bottom billion customers.
To request a speaking engagement with Paul Polak, view our Speaking page for details.
Out of Poverty Book Jacket Cover Art JPEG
Business Solution to Poverty Jacket Cover Art JPEG
Inspiring Social Entrepreneurs Podcast
January 23, 2016
Indiana University Kelley School of Business
Bloomington, Indiana, September 10, 2015
Keynote Speech at the Swiss Water Partnership
Dübendorf, Switzerland, July 2, 2015
New Orleans Propeller Talk:
Hosted by Tulane University, June 1, 2015
American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Interview:
Montreal, Canada, November 14-20, 2014
Billions Rising TV – Episode 1: Water
Hosted by Anita Casalina, September 15, 2014
Business Fights Poverty Google Hangout with Paul Polak
2nd in a series hosted by Business Fights Poverty
Moderated by Zahid Torres-Rahman, May 22, 2014
Business Fights Poverty Hosts a Google Hangout with Paul Polak
This is the first of a monthly Google Hangout series hosted by Business Fights Poverty
Moderated by Zahid Torres-Rahman, April 3, 2014
Google Hangout with Paul Polak
By Devin Thorpe December 9, 2013
Jacob Mathew Interview on Chai with Lakshmi
Good Water for India
by Lakshmi Rebecca November 21, 2013
Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs Panel
November 13, 2013
Paul’s Talk at SOCAP13 (12 minutes)
September 5, 2013
Interview by Paula Escobar (30 minutes)
Interview by Paula Escobar April 25, 2013
Designing solutions to Poverty is Child’s Play: TEDxManitoba
Stuart Taylor of iDE featuring Paul Polak – 2013
Paul Polak in the news!
Paul Polak: Always curious, always learning
By Aimee Rae Ocampo, September 15, 2014
CEO of Windhorse International on transformative BoP business model
By Sara Enright, September 4, 2014
Cleantech in the developing world: from solar power to refrigeration
By Kristine Wong, June 13, 2014
Green is Good Radio
Helping 100 Million People Move Out of Poverty with Paul Polak
Interview by John Shegerian, June 13, 2014
iDE and American Standard See Big Business In Toilets At The Bottom Of The Pyramid
By KC Koch June 12, 2014
Tulsa Public Radio
A Conversation with Dr. Paul Polak
Interview by Rich Fisher, April 16, 2014
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
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
Why We Should Treat Poor, Rural Farmers as Customers Instead of Charity Cases
By Gloria Dawson September 23, 2013
The Conference Board Review
There’s Still a Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid
By Matthew Budman Fall 2013
Foreign Policy Blog
Curb Your Social Entrepreneurial Enthusiasm
By Daniel Altman December 24, 2013
An Entrepreneur Creating Chances at a Better Life
by Donald G. McNeil Jr, September 26, 2011
Paul Polak – Developing Products for ‘the Other 90 percent’
by Esha Chabra, September 28, 2011
Bringing Solar Light Bulbs to the World
by Jim Spellman, August 14, 2011
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, 2008
Paul Polak, Tackling Global Poverty His Own Way
April 23 , 2008
His 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, 2009
Giving the Poor a Means to Work
February 22, 2008
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.”
Water Pressure on Assignment
“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.”
Paul Polak, leader in Scientific American top 50
“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, 2008
Polak, 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.”
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.”
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.”
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
“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, 2008
How can big business help the world’s poorest people? Two concepts, affordability and free market delivery, may hold the key.
Prescriptions for helping poor people help themselves
February 25, 2008
He 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.
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.”
August 2008 Issue
Poor 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, 2008
How 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, 2008 BNN – 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
The 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, 2008
Polak, 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.
Spring Issue 2008
Paul 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, 2008
If 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 Needy
February 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
“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
Can 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 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, 2008
Paul 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
“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
L’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: NextBillion.net
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, 2008
Since 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, 2008
Paul 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, 2008
The 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!Cast Video
“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
Cornell’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 , 2008
Social 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 , 2008
Meet 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.”
Excerpt from Paul Polak’s Book, Out of Poverty
November 24, 2008
“This 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!”
— PAUL NEWMAN