Paul Polak, Tackling Global Poverty His Own Way : NPR
Polak was interviewed on Fresh Air April 2008. First, the NPR intro, then an excerpt from his book, Out of Poverty: What Works When Traditional Approaches Fail:
Paul Polak, founder of the nonprofit International Development Enterprises, has spent 25 years working to eradicate poverty in Bangladesh, India, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and other countries in the developing world.
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.
And Polak argues that his approach can make a difference in impoverished communities in the U.S., as well as in developing economies.
And here’s the excerpt:
Here are the twelve steps I used to arrive at the solutions to extreme poverty I describe in this book. Although each of them is simple and obvious, many people find them difficult to apply. For example, most poverty experts spend little or no time talking with and listening to extremely poor people in the places where they live and work, although that is exactly where I have been guided to most of the practical solutions to poverty that I describe in this book.
1. Go to where the action is.
2. Talk to the people who have the problem and listen to what they say.
3. Learn everything you can about the problem’s specific context.
4. Think big and act big.
5. Think like a child.
6. See and do the obvious.
7. If somebody has already invented it, you don’t need to do so again.
8. Make sure your approach has positive measurable impacts that can be brought to scale. Make sure it can reach at least a million people and make their lives measurably better.
9. Design to specific cost and price targets.
10. Follow practical three-year plans.
11. Continue to learn from your customers.
12. Stay positive: don’t be distracted by what other people think.
Good advice. VERY good advice!