Out of Poverty: What Works When Traditional Approaches Fail / Edition 1

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Based on his 25 years of experience, Polak 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. Polak shows that programs based on these ideas have utterly failed—in fact, in sub-Saharan Africa poverty rates have actually gone up.

These failed top-down efforts contrast sharply with the grassroots approach Polak and IDE have championed: helping the dollar-a-day poor earn more money through their own efforts. Amazingly enough, unexploited market opportunities do exist for the desperately poor. Polak describes how he and others have identified these opportunities and have developed innovative, low-cost tools that have helped in lifting 17 million people out of poverty.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Out of Poverty by Paul Polak, offers optimism. Optimism not just for those fighting poverty and those fighting to get out of it, but for any company interested in a basically untapped 1 billion-person market." — Jessie Scanlon "February 22, 2008; BusinessWeek"
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781576754498
  • Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/1/2008
  • Series: BK Currents Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 232
  • Sales rank: 1,046,042
  • Product dimensions: 6.44 (w) x 9.24 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Polak is the founder of the Colorado-based non-profit International Development Enterprises (IDE). His newest project is D-Rev, a non-profit that seeks "to create a design revolution by enlisting the best designers in the world to develop products and ideas that will benefit the 90% of the people on earth who are poor...."

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Table of Contents

Preface     ix
Introduction: Learning to Do the Simple and Obvious     1
Twelve Steps to Practical Problem Solving     13
The Three Great Poverty Eradication Myths     27
It All Starts with Making More Money     51
Design for the Other 90 Percent     63
From Subsistence to New Income     83
Affordable Small-Plot Irrigation     95
A New Agriculture for One-Acre Farms     115
Creating Vibrant New Markets That Serve Poor Customers     137
Slums - The Incubator for New Income Opportunities     159
Poverty and the Planet     171
Taking Action to End Poverty     183
Bahadur and His Family Move Out of Poverty     201
Notes     213
Resources     217
Acknowledgments     218
Index     221
About the Author     230
About IDE     231
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 5 of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 5, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Poor people are poor because they don't have enough money

    Very helpful book from a dedicated practitioner to reducing $1/day rural poverty in developing countries.

    A few highlights...

    Poor people are poor because they don't have enough money

    Kind of obvious . it's what the poor tell you when you ask them . but Polak argues that the "poverty experts" have much more complicated answers which is why they are so often distracted from actually helping the poor become not poor. Poverty experts argue that the poor are poor because (a) they don't have power; (b) they are uneducated; (c) they get sick/disease too often; (d) they need clean water; (e) they need better seeds/fertilizer (or no fertilizer); etc. etc. etc. and the granddaddy of all . they need ALL of these things before they can have any hope of moving out of poverty. Polak argues that "finding a practical solution requires a different strategy . finding the simplest single 'lever' capable of producing the biggest positive result." The answer is - increasing income.

    #1 Way for Small Farmers to Earn More Money

    Polak believes that growing high-value vegetables, fruits and herbs as a cash crop during the dry season using drip irrigation is the #1 opportunity for small one-acre farmers (and even "landless" people) to earn upwards of $500/year which is enough to start them on the positive cycle towards getting out of < $1/day poverty. IDE has focused R&D on building a drip and sprinkler irrigation products affordable and sturdy enough for these farmers. Combining this with their affordable treadle pumps and a few other inventions to assist with water movement and storage, provides a scalable, practical solution.

    See my full review: http://bit.ly/6GLQlq

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 10, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Fighting poverty with practical compassion

    Free-market advocate Paul Polak is an atypical poverty expert. He compellingly argues that handouts do not alleviate poverty and might make it worse. Instead, he insists, the true solution to poverty lies in unleashing the poor¿s entrepreneurial power. Polak says successful entrepreneurs like him are the ones who can help the poor make more money. His company designs cheap water pumps and irrigation systems that sell for a profit while helping subsistence farmers make more money. Although he frequently repeats the same points, Polak¿s treatise is a lively read. getAbstract recommends Polak¿s point of view to readers who seek a contrary ¿ and practical ¿ perspective on the problem of global poverty.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 4, 2008

    Hopeful ideas on how to effectivley end poverty

    I just finished this wonderful book, and feel inspired to start my own small scale project in my own neighborhood in a way I know can really help. This book really shows how any of us can help make a difference.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing 1 – 5 of 3 Customer Reviews

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