Friday, June 13, 2008

"Out of Poverty," uncut

Somehow, in my review of Paul Polak's book, a paragraph disappeared from what I thought was the final version, and what ended up in the Stanford Social Innovation Review. I still think it is important, and will share it with my bleeps:

"Though Polak addresses 'designing for the other 90 percent' in the book, he focuses on those living in extreme poverty (on less than $1 per day), 'the bottom 10 percent.' Entrepreneurs interested in developing products for those earning $2-5 per day may need to modify some of his design concepts. Trading off durability for affordability, or avoiding microcredit, may not be appropriate for entrepreneurs developing products for small businesses in urban markets. For example, Envirofit customers, who drive motorcycle taxis in Asia, prefer to purchase a more durable product, and microcredit loans facilitate the purchase. Entrepreneurs would be wise to focus on designing the most affordable solution for their target customer, taking into account manufacturing, transportation, and financing costs."

In other words, Paul's advice on design is good generic advice, but it is better for the specific market segment he knows- the $1/day farmer.

Note: My review of Polak's book is for subscibers only at, but has been posted over at Next Billion, so see it here if you aren't a subscriber. Or better yet, subscribe to the journal if you are interested in this field.

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