Google Hangout: A Conversation with Paul Polak

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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Looking forward to it!

Hello Paul and Graham
With the range if business solutions to poverty you have been working on, what would you say are the key measures of impact that you can use that not only demonstrate outcomes, but also help direct your business investments for shared value? We are looking at social value measures for business and really want to find those that help transform business. Thanks!

So glad to be here !

Any business hoping to work effectively in the developing world should plan from the beginning to create local jobs as a key strategy for building local stakeholder interest and investment in your business sustainability and success. Local support and enthusiasm (while simultaneously building your future market) can also be achieved by zero-based design collaboration with end-users. Our business, Eniware, LLC, brings affordable, portable, power-free sterilization for healthcare settings to the 1.2 billion people without access to electricity and the hundreds of millions more with intermittent or insecure access to power.

We are big fans at Eniware of the three business "S"s - sustainable, scalable and shared value - implied in Paul's model.

We also embrace Paul's innovative strategies of combining ruthless affordability, designing for radical decentralization and ensuring sufficient margins to attract the big money investors for scaling.

And thank you for bringing up "aspirational branding"! Paul's approach is all about human dignity.

Rachel- hello from Paul Polak's team- if you'd like us to send you an edited version of this Google Hangout video to just have your answer from Paul- please email us directly at

I am a masters student in strategic management in Sweden, i am interested in a masters thesis on this issue of Business fights Poverty, could you provide some of the existing gaps in this field.

Dorothy, Linköpings Universitet, Sweden.

Thank you for your idea about creating a "play" to act out instructions. At New Vision Renewable Energy, we have created a solar LED light in partnership with 3M and it is available as an unassembled kit or assembled. Would it benefit the recipients of our light to receive the kit with an instructional video so that they are empowered by the building of the light with their own hands? We have over 1100 lights in over 25 countries and written material in so many different languages is often not possible when working with tribal communities of various dialects.Does the social value of empowerment override the need for light? Thoughts?

I'd suggest that more serious consideration of the principles behind Earthships be considered, these provide a sewage treatment, drinking water, thermal mass to stay warm without needing to burn something since comfort zone doesn't vary much using the passive solar methods.

These have been built in 2-3 weeks using hand tools from tires, dirt, plastic bottles and basically only require cement & rebar to bring them up to code.

There is no better investment to establish a community than getting people out of the mud with little inputs, this is a recent design done for Haiti relief:

Paul will be available to reply to your comments Friday- So watch for his reply here soon!
Also- please share a link about your company- it's sounds great!

Here is more about Paul's business that follows a similar model to yours

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

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

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.