paul polak

paul polak

[golden, co]

intro’d to Paul via a conversation with David.

struggling/wondering/curious -about his focus on market/profitability.. answers through lower cost.. people as customers..

taking him in first here:

The Business Solution to Poverty

3 movements:

1. end extreme poverty – basically failed unless we find new ways of addressing poverty

2. social impact – unless find ways of demonstrating commercial profitability at scale.. will die

3. big business – has been in global recession – now coming out of it – but using same overconsumption patterns that led to recession in first place.. unless focusses on 2.7 million that aren’t being served (live on under 2 dollars/day) will die

charity doesn’t bring people out of poverty..

5 min – where can big business find the next china?

for big business, extreme poverty, investing…

why hasn’t big business entered the market of the 3ish billion living on under 2 dollars a day

refers to them – as 2 dollar a day customers

profitability at scale…?


silly to question this brilliant man no?

but how has he gotten so much acclaim, done so much good, and poverty still prevails..


Paul Polak has been helping people escape poverty in Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and elsewhere for 27 years. 

You have great hopes for a $100 house.
Virtually all “dollar-a-day” people in rural areas own their own houses. But the walls are made of mud and wattle, usually there’s a thatched roof, and the floor is a mixture of dung and clay. The house has no value. You can’t sell it and, even more critically, you can’t go to a bank and use it [as collateral] for a loan. But for $100 you can build a 20-square-meter house—a skeleton of eight beams and a good roof that they can add bricks or cinder blocks to. Then they can go to the bank and borrow against it.

schooling the world ness. Helena?


TEDxMileHigh – The Future Corporation

customers that live on less than 1 dollar a day – have become my teachers/friends

3 billion by passed customers

treadle pump – whoa..

20 mill people move out of poverty via ide

to sell safe drinking water at scale – springhealth/windhorse

revolution – in market/business – in design/price


what if zero based design’s starting from scratch means money doesn’t exist..


just finishing the business solution to poverty..

many wonderings.. why is money assumed… why aren’t local people coming up with the problem… what about zooming out more to a deeper problem.. one for 7 billion + people.. no?

this phrase shows up a lot: there are lots of great ways to make money, but relatively few that will respond to the needs of poor people and turn a handsome profit as well.

another: it’s essential that you speak at length with – and, more important, listen to – what poor people say about your idea.

sounds like spinach or rock ness of pbl et al.

imagine a nother way


find/follow Paul:

link twitter



his site:

wikipedia small







money ness