|The happy GSSE crew and speakers|
The GSSE community had the opportunity to hear some pretty inspiring folks speak a few days ago. Paul Polak, founder of International Development Enterprises (IDE) and author of Out of Poverty along with the current CEO, Al Doerkson came to share some perspectives about development and IDE's place in that world. While Paul holds to some steadfast rules (the "Don't Bother Trilogy") I don't necessarily agree with, such as "If what you design can't pay for itself in a year, don't bother" he makes some of the most logical connections between business and the developing world I've every heard. The way Paul and Al rattled off market numbers was astonishing. As a wise not-so-old professor once said, "Paul is 78 and could kick all our asses".
Evolving as a professional and engaged individual, this program is pushing me to see the things I agree with and highlights some that I don't. I think it was Obama's mom who said something to the effect of "Sooner or later you have to be for something rather than against everything".
|Giving potential venture feedback|
The day started with some background on IDE and where the idea came from (Paul's head). He's a psychiatrist by training, spent some time investing in real estate, and realized after traveling through many developing countries that a good chunk of the world has some serious needs BUT they had some disposable income to address them. The rest is history, peppered by Somali donkey carts, drip irrigation systems, water purifiers and more. IDE sells products to make people's lives easier in a manner that is affordable and less intrusive than traditional products. Seriously, leave this blog now and go the sites I linked above! They don't apply blanket answers but adapt their market strategy to each country, city, and village situation.
|Lettin' us have it!|
It was a fantastic day. Paul signed all our copies of his book, many contacts were exchanged and, I think, a good time was had by all. I'm sure this is not the last I'll blog about these guys and IDE, their ideas and practices resonate with me in a very big way. As Paul says, "There is much to be done."