Giving the Poor a Means to Work

Paul Polak and his company, International Development Enterprises, have helped 17 million people lift themselves out of poverty

Most books about poverty are downright depressing. The figures—1 billion people live on less than $1 a day, according to the U.N. Development Program—are depressing. The complexity of the problem—poverty is connected to poor health is connected to lack of clean drinking water is connected to lack of education—is daunting. And spend any time at, say, the Web site of the World Bank, the organization that's "Working for a World Free of Poverty," according to its tagline, and you start to sense a disconnect between the experts' fancy "comprehensive development frameworks" and poverty-mapping techniques, and the daily needs of the poorest poor.

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