Dr. Paul Polak
Dr. Paul Polak – founder of Colorado-based non-profits D-Rev: Design for the Other 90% and International Development Enterprises (IDE)-is dedicated to developing practical solutions that attack poverty at its roots. For the past 25 years, he has worked with farmers in countries around the world – including Bangladesh, India, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Nepal, Vietnam, Zambia and Zimbabwe – to help design and produce low-cost, income-generating products that have already moved 17 million people out of poverty.
While practicing psychiatry for 23 years, Paul visited the homes and workplaces of his patients to better understand the environments influencing them. After a trip to Bangladesh he was inspired to use the same skills he had honed while working with homeless veterans and mentally ill patients to serve the 800 million people living on a dollar a day around the world. His innovative solutions – such as the $25 treadle pump and $3 small farm drip-irrigation systems – helped IDE increase poor farmers’ net income by $288 million annually.
Dr. Polak was named one of the Scientific American “Top 50” for his leadership in agriculture policy in 2003, and he received the 2004 Ernst & Young “Entrepreneur of the Year” award in the social responsibility category. IDE received a $14 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation in 2006.