Eight keys to ending poverty
Monday, November 11, 2013
Paul Polak, who five years ago published the book Out of Poverty: What works when traditional approaches fail, has written a second book with Mal Warwick. The new book pushes his original arguments for market-based solutions to poverty forward and advocates for big business to target the poor. In their book they define poverty (and those at the bottom of the pyramid) as families who live on the equivalent of $2 a day or less per person. By this measure, about 2.7 billion people meet the definition of poverty, including about a billion who live on $1 or less a day. The book focuses primarily on the rural poor. In this excerpt Polak and Warwick outline what they see at eight keys to ending poverty.
The remedy we propose is to tap the mainstream capital markets to fund large-scale, global enterprises that address the basic needs of these 2.7 billion people: needs for clean water, renewable energy, affordable housing, accessible health care and education, and, above all, jobs. The Business Solution to Poverty will spell out exactly how big global businesses launched either by independent entrepreneurs or by existing multinational corporations can earn profits large enough to attract substantial amounts of capital by satisfying these needs — and lifting millions into the middle class in the process. Each of these businesses, we believe, must set a 10-year goal of building a customer base of at least 100 million, achieving revenues of $10 billion or more per year, and realizing sufficient profitability to attract both indigenous and international commercial investors while minimizing its environmental impact to the greatest extent possible.
The approach we advocate to end poverty doesn’t follow a simple formula. You can’t write it all down on a prescription pad. However, it is systematic. We call it zero-based design.