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Paul Polak, Tackling Global Poverty His Own Way

Paul Polak, founder of the nonprofit International Development Enterprises, has spent 25 years working to eradicate poverty in Bangladesh, India, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and other countries in the developing world.

His perhaps-surprising conclusion: Government subsidies for the rural poor often make things worse.

Instead, Polak teaches families and farmers — many of whom live on a dollar a day and own perhaps an acre of land — how to increase crop yields with simple technologies, such as cheap, foot-operated water pumps and inexpensive drip hoses for irrigation.

And Polak argues that his approach can make a difference in impoverished communities in the U.S., as well as in developing economies.

Last year Polak's organization received a $13.4 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support its ongoing work. His new book is Out of Poverty: What Works When Traditional Approaches Fail.

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