Paul Polak, a social entrepreneur and author who has dedicated more than 30 years to developing practical solutions to world poverty will give a free public talk “Leadership, Engineering and Poverty: What Works When Traditional Approaches Fail," on Monday, March 4, 6-7:30 p.m. in the Math 100 Auditorium.
Polak is perhaps best known for founding, in 1981, the Colorado-based International Development Enterprises (IDE), which manufactures and distributes affordable water recovery systems for the developing world. IDE has received $41 million in grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for introducing such products and services as the treadle pump, low-cost drip irrigation, and new agricultural marketing practices.
He also launched the nonprofit product development company D-Rev, and authored the 2008 book, “Out of Poverty: What Works When Traditional Approaches Fail.”
Recently he has turned his attention to the launch of Windhorse International, a for-profit social venture with a mission of leading a revolution in how companies design, price, market and distribute products to benefit the billions of customers who live on less than $2 per day. His next book, “The Business Solution to Poverty: Designing Products and Services for 3 Billion New Consumers,” will be published by Berrett-Koehler later this year.
“Severe poverty can be ended only by an infusion of private capital into new, mission-driven, multinational businesses that provide essential goods and services at affordable prices to the billions living in rural areas on $2 a day or less — and hire tens of millions of local staff in the process,” said Polak.
Dr. Polak practiced psychiatry in Colorado for 23 years before he turned his attention to issues of world poverty.
During his second career, he has been recognized by Scientific American as one of the world’s leading 50 contributors to science, and his work has been featured in articles in Business Week, the Economist, the New York Times, Forbes and National Geographic.
He is a fellow of the Unreasonable Institute, and in 2009, he was named one of the world’s “Brave Thinkers” by Atlantic Monthly, along with Barack Obama and Steve Jobs, for being willing to “risk careers, reputations, and fortunes to advance ideas that upend an established order.”
Polak’s talk is part of the Engineering Leadership Program’s Spring 2013 Leadership Series. Co-sponsors include the Center for Education on Social Responsibility at the Leeds School of Business and the Newton Chair in Leadership at CU-Boulder.