Paul Polak speaks on creating solutions to poverty situations through profitable, sustainable business ventures. Years of experience on rural settings have convinced Polak that enterprise opportunities have significant potential to improve people’s livelihoods. Cosmetic corporate social responsibility and impact investing are not the answer. It is also clear that conventional development aid has failed so far: charity doesn’t get rid of poverty, releasing market forces does.
Polak believes new companies, aimed at the “$2 per day consumers”, can solve poverty issues by involving citizens, allowing them to invest in their own path towards development. Moreover, these ventures earn at profits that are enough to attract serious investors. He tells the audience of IDE, a non profit organization that treats poor people as consumers, rather than recipients of charity. From tread pumps in Bangladesh to green coal, Polak shares the success of his initiatives in different parts of the world. Spring health, a program that allows affordable clean water distribution to consumers in communities, exhibits all key elements of what Polak calls Zero-based design: listening to people with the problem, ruthless pursuit of affordability, aspirational branding, last mile distribution, and Jugaad innovation.
According to Polak, $2 per day consumers are a market of infinite opportunity that can be harnessed to their own benefit. All it takes is bravery and creativity.
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Nuestra misión es la enseñanza y difusión de los principios éticos, jurídicos y económicos de una sociedad de personas libres y responsables.
Universidad Francisco Marroquín