../Morning Post
Posted November 4, 2009

International development entrepreneur to show how people can escape poverty

WATERLOO - Paul Polak, a leading international development entrepreneur, will discuss solutions to help millions of people escape poverty during a public talk at the University of Waterloo this week.

Polak, founder of International Development Enterprises (IDE), will give a lecture, entitled Out of Poverty: What Works When Traditional Approaches Fail, on Thursday, Nov. 5 at 7:30 p.m. in MacKirdy Hall at St. Paul's University College, on the Waterloo campus. IDE is a global non-profit organization that has improved the lives of an estimated 17 million people in developing countries.

In his talk, Polak will debunk three 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.

"Paul Polak challenges us to rethink our approaches to water, agriculture, markets and design," said Larry Swatuk, director of Waterloo's international development program. "More fundamentally, Paul inspires us first to listen to poor people and understand the specific context in which they live. Only then can the richest 10 per cent of the world bring about long-term change by creating opportunities that encourage local entrepreneurs to become active participants in a market-driven economy."

So far around the globe, IDE has successfully developed and distributed 200,000 of the world's first drip-irrigation systems for small farms - costing farmers as little as $3 each - and two million $25 treadle pumps.

Polak's new organization, D-Rev, is developing affordable products for the world's poor, including a $10 solar lantern to illuminate homes, a $4 household water filter and a $50 gasifier for generating heat.

His lecture is sponsored by St. Paul's University College in partnership with the Waterloo's newly established school of environment, enterprise and development (SEED).

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