Join us at 3.30pm GMT / 10.30am EST on Thursday, 12 December for a live Google Hangout with Paul Polak, Founder of IDE.


Paul Polak is widely regarded as the father of market-centered approaches to development. He started harnessing the energy of the marketplace 30 years ago when IDE, the organization he founded, sold 1.5 million treadle pumps.


Paul will talk about the ideas in his new book, The Business Solution to Poverty.


The interview will be conducted by Graham Baxter, Senior Adviser at Business Fights Poverty.


Post your comments and questions below!


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Paul will be available to reply to your comments Friday- So watch for his reply here soon!

I'd love to know which youth network most connects with paul's work so that we can help them converge on atlanta 2015

The website for Eniware portable, power-free sterilization is  Feel free to contact us!

Chris, I was just looking at your website and Youth Creative Lab. We teach youth how to create our solar lights for developing countries. We work mostly with "at-risk" children as defined by the OJJDP and began our Global IMPACT youth mentoring network this past year as a result of a grant awarded by the DOJ and in partnership with Leadership Foundations. Can you take a look at and let me know if you see any synergy in connecting? We are also looking for foundation grants to further this program. We are in 25 national and 5 international locations now with this model. Look forward to hearing back from you! You can email me at

We also have a project called "IZUBA Production Business Project" for reduction of CO2 emissions, good health, jobs creation, export and poverty alleviation through renewable energy (solar lamps) and moringa trees. I think we can collaborate with Pamela from New Vision Renewable Energy, Dorothy Macharia and Myra from Eniware, LLC. Thanks for responding at  

Myra thanks for reference to Enlware - did Paul mention having already started 4 frontier companies - would love links to others

Pamela interesting website of yours;  do you ever come into washington dc where my main collaboration networks are based? the 2 year hunt for solar youth networks to converge on atlanta only began last month but green energy is absolutely one of the networks we want to help youth massively celebrate- my understanding is that solar began with jimmy carter putting neville williams (author of chaing the sun an founder of )  on the job way back in his presidency -whether that is correct or not several of atlanta's leadership team prioritise clean energy as a top youth entrepreneur and open education agenda; one of the things I hope to develop is maximum 9 minute khan academy style pitches made by youth aiming to viralise through millions of youth; in the first instance what would a transcript for such a presentation look like ; we will aim to launch such a context by spring of next year but are currently looking for supporters of such a contest - welcome people keeping in touch

Chris It appears we have a similar mindset for this type of STEM education model too. I work out of the Northern Virginia office -- just a short ride to DC. Inbox me at Look forward to hearing from you.

I'm happy to have you participate!

paul polak

Hi Rachel 

there already is a substantive literature on social impact measurement, which I'm sure you've already found useful. But my view is that we pay far too much attention to detailed measures of impact, and far too little attention to achieving sustainable attractive bottom line profit, and the basic business details required to accomplish it.

So here's my approach to impact measures

1. What is the basic mission built into the DNA of the company, and to what extent is social impact inherent in the basic mission statement?

For example, if bringing electricty to customers without access to it at a price they find attractive and doing it at scale is built into your mission statement,, and you are successful in accomplishing your mission, then the impact is built in, There is plenty of convincing information about the contribution REA made to development in the US south, for example, and it should be pretty easy to outline some related key measures of impact

But then the key challenge is making attractive profits, which requires applying all the principles of running an excellent business, and this is far tougher to do than measuring social impact.

2. From interviewing thousands of poor people, I am convinced that helping them increase their net annual income is the single most important social impact measure. From the perspective of poor people themselves, all the other impact variables, like improved quality of life, improved education, empowerment, education,and  health, flow from impoved net income. So i put a major focus on measruing improved net income, compared with people who are not company customers.

I hope this is helpful 

myra, I very much like your business model, which brings efficient surgical instrument sterilization to health clinics in emerging markets. Of course, the devil is in the details like obtaining government certification, designing an effective last mile distribution and marketing strategy.

I wish you very success!

thanks myra

thats a pretty broad question, Dorothy

My recent  book,with Mal Warwick,  The Business Solution to Poverty,might provide a useful overview for you about what we see as major gaps in the field, After you get a chance to look at it, I'd be happy to respond to more specific questions

good luck with your thesis!

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