The latest in the Contemporary Arts Center's lecture series based on the premise of asking hyper-experts who might actually know, what’s next?
And what is next? The long tail, making tiny amounts of profit selling needed goods to the poorest 3 billion people on earth. How do you make money selling things to people who make a $1 a day?
Paul Polak the founder of International Development Enterprises (IDE), is glad you asked because he has an answer for you.
First off the 3 billion people making $1 or less a day need to be viewed as consumers not charity recipients.
The problem with solving poverty he says is that people make it too complicated, all you have to do is get your hands dirty, talk to them to see what one single thing could transform their lives.
That thing is water.
Someone in the audience asked if judging poverty by assigning a monetary value was a western idea and wasn't there a better way to measure? Paul said its not western at all money is very real to poor people.
$1 a day means your kids will go hungry.
A cheap drip irrigation system can go for as little as $25 raising a farmers income to $3 a day. This tiny difference means the children don't die, the family eats every day and the kids stay in school.
There was a large group of P&G'rs in attendance and the question/answer session led to some long winded convoluted complex questions which amazingly Paul distilled right down to their essence and then gave succinct answers.
After beating the branding theme to death through the whole presentation, everything Paul's various organizations were doing were heavily branded I'm surprised no one asked the obvious question. What's the end game of this branding? To move upscale with the clientele?
I guess since I'm not from P&G this was painfully obvious to everyone but me.
Asked how he got into this, "very bad luck" Paul laughed.
The barrier that prevents multinationals, and most everyone else for that matter is the last mile supply chain. A village may have one, sometimes two mom and pop shops. They could be as little as 100 sf and there are no delivery trucks. The owners ride a bus into a bigger market to buy products to bring back and sell in their shops. Very difficult to penetrate.
Fortunately Paul sees more people wanting to bring real change looking into these issues and he's formed a VC called the 100 Million Fund. They are going to fund and most likely incubate companies that will market to at least 100 million people living on $2 a day.
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