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April 25, 2013 / compassioninpolitics

Paul Polak Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Latin America 2013

Designing Products, Scaling Social Innovation, and Solving Poverty at the Base of the Pyramid

The following are my notes from the World Economic Forum (2013 from Latin America) Live Stream featuring social entrepreneur and innovator Paul Polak:

Paul Polak
• Formerly of IDE
• D-Rev
• Windhorse International (actually 4 companies)

Go to where the action is.

Talk to consumers/users. Interview.


Learn as much as you can.

Listen to non-verbals

Listen with the soul.

Conventional development failed. Charity failed. CSR flawed.

Confusion over social impact versus profitability.

Creating new markets is the path to scale. Thats what I’m working on.
Frontier multinationals serving $2 a day customers.

Hand pumps & development projects will always break. 2 years later. No one around to fix it.

Poor people have to invest time and money to move out of poverty.

Fair, open economic transaction versus charity.

His story of being a psychiatrist. Adjustment versus mental illness. Housing, jobs tailored to disabilities, and jobs. Poverty work as part of mental health center. Then $600 in Denver a month versus Bangladesh on $2 day.

They said they needed access to water control. Radically affordable irrigation tools. IDE……to next stage of creating these companies.

Ideas & inspiration comes from the field–being there. Its very natural if you talk to them. (ie ideas, inspiration, etc….).

Small farmers are naturally entrepreneurs. My father. We left as refugees. Peasant home in Checkslovakia.

A matter of facilliating what they are doing already. They need more income. Fitting in with what they are doing already.

Everyone participates in markets.

Single thing with development: scale. Profitable enough to get capital. Much bigger pools of money. 100 million customers and transform their lives. 10 billion in annual sales.

MNCs & Frontier markets: Unilever & P & G.

2. Don’t have a clue how to design products that are radically
3. Last mile distribution

All solvable problems.

Tell me something that can’t be done…..and I really enjoy making it happen.

Less than .o1 for a liter of clean water. Windhorse is the holding company. Spring Health. Eventually 50 companies. We’re using electro-chlorination. Salt-solution. Breaks it down and kills germs. As big as a bread box. $250. 8000 liters a day. Purify water in 50 villages.

Not single product kiosk. Partnership with local mom & pop store. Kirada shops. There are 10 million.

Hire Artisan. 3000 cement tank. $100. The shop keeper fills it with their own contaminated well. Also distribution via motorcycles. 45 minutes test for purity. And then sell it. Shop keeper hires local people with cycle trollies for home deliveries. 4 ruppees for a jerry can. We split revenue with shop keeper. We get 75 for first portion & then 50/50.

Blocks of 50 villages. Pilot test in 35 village serving 20,000 customers.

Will roll out 50 villages a month….very soon.

Will reach 100 million people in India. 100 million in other countries.
Design for scale.

Simple: how do you sharpen 1000 pencils. 100,000? How do you sharpen 1 million?

How do you recruit teams? Students want to make a difference in colleges. D-Rev….knee joint. $25 artificial knee. Finding students to work on design problems. D-Rev licensed one of its technologies to an Indian firm.

I look for the top people in the world. And just call them up.
They tend to say yes–in my experience.

Photovoltaic pumping tech. Top irrigation. Rocket science at Ball Aerospace. Radically affordable solar system.

Poor customers…do aspirational branding. Its more important. Hired one of the best firms in India. I don’t want to be stuck with a flunkee. I want one of the principles. (Jacob Lackey????) He’s the CEO of the company. Also rolled out mobile phone networks…..CEO Kisha Montobantee. He recruited a national recruitment firm. If someone leaves before 3 months….they have to give us someone else. 120 staff. Batch training program in groups of 50. Classroom and field.

IDE. Just me in my house….to a 20 million organization.

I love failure. You learn alot from it.
Nepal. 40% 2 to 12 day walk to carry things to the village.
We tested a jet barge. High tech. Failed. Learned so much from it.
Mortified. Friend from the Ag. Development Bank. Thank you so much for risking to help my country.

High tech has real risks. Since then I’ve stayed with radically affordable…kind of low tech.

New Book from Paul Polak. Business solution to poverty. 3 billion new consumers.

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