The fact is none of the well-meaning anti-poverty initiatives to date have achieved much -there are 2.7 billion people today living on $2 a day or less, more than the entire population of the world in 1950. Paul Polak and Mal Warwick argue that the way to help these people is not to view them as victims or as charity cases, but as customers whose needs the market can serve effectively and profitably, without exploitation. In fact, Polak has been doing it for years. The key is to design products and services explicitly for this market--not cheapened versions of products designed for more affluent markets--an approach called Zero-Based Design. Polak and Warwick spell out, step by step, the guidelines and principles of this approach, and show how it has already been able to supply the very poor with clean drinking water, electricity, irrigation, housing, education, healthcare, and other necessities at a fraction of the usual cost and at profit margins comparable to the more developed world. This approach can be scaled up to reach a virtually untouched market of millions or even billions--this is an extraordinary opportunity for nimble entrepreneurs, investors, and corporate executives that will result in tremendous good for the world's poorest people.
About the Author
Paul Polak, widely considered the father of market-based solutions to poverty, is founder and CEO of Windhorse International, a for-profit social venture launching new businesses to serve the poor and the latest of three organizations he has founded. He is the winner of numerous awards, including being named one of The Atlantic's 27 "Brave Thinkers" in 2009.
Mal Warwick, former chairman of Social Venture Network and a co-founder of Business for Social Responsibility, is founder and chairman of Mal Warwick - Donordigital, a fundraising agency serving nonprofits nationwide. He is one of three partners in One World Futbol Project LLC