“You Can’t Donate People Out of Poverty”

(p. A9) Dr. Polak, . . . , found that poor people valued and cared for things they had bought. “You can’t donate people out of poverty,” he told The Wall Street Journal in 2007.

The trick was to figure out which tools were needed and how to make them at an affordable cost. For nearly four decades, Dr. Polak roamed the world’s poorest regions and quizzed farmers about their needs. “The small farmers I interviewed became my teachers,” he said in a video posted by one of the organizations he founded, iDE, formerly known as International Development Enterprises.

While visiting Somalia in the early 1980s, he noticed people lugging water and other items by hand or with awkward donkey carts. Working with local blacksmiths, he devised a better donkey cart, using parts from junked automobiles. From that point, he relied on market forces: Blacksmiths began making and selling the carts for the equivalent of about $450. Buyers of the carts could earn $200 a month for transporting goods, according to iDE.

. . .

Paul Polak (pronounced POLE-ack) . . .

. . .

He wrote or co-wrote two books drawing on his experiences, “The Business Solution to Poverty” (2013) and “Out of Poverty” (2008).

For the full obituary, see:

James R. Hagerty. “Roving Entrepreneur Built A Better Donkey Cart.” The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, October 26, 2019): A9.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the obituary has the date Oct. 25, 2019, and has the title “Paul Polak Built Better Tools for Farmers in Poor Countries.”)

The books authored, or co-authored, by Paul Polak, mentioned above, are:

Polak, Paul. Out of Poverty: What Works When Traditional Approaches Fail. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2008.

Polak, Paul, and Mal Warwick. The Business Solution to Poverty: Designing Products and Services for Three Billion New Customers. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2013.

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