Based on his 25 years of experience, Polak explodes what he calls the Three Great Poverty Eradication Myths: that we can donate people out of poverty, that national economic growth will end poverty, and that Big Business, operating as it does now, will end poverty. Polak shows that programs based on these ideas have utterly failed--in fact, in sub-Saharan Africa poverty rates have actually gone up.
These failed top-down efforts contrast sharply with the grassroots approach Polak and IDE have championed: helping the dollar-a-day poor earn more money through their own efforts. Amazingly enough, unexploited market opportunities do exist for the desperately poor. Polak describes how he and others have identified these opportunities and have developed innovative, low-cost tools that have helped in lifting 17 million people out of poverty.
Paul Polak’s approach is beautifully revolutionary because it recognizes that the poor MUST be part of the solution to end poverty and are not the causes of it.
The book truly reflects the down to earth style and substance of Polak and his work. In fact, what's most striking about Polak's approach to attacking poverty is its straightforward, flexible, and results-based orientation.
The book covers a lot of ground quickly, challenging leading development theorists ( Jeff Sachs, Bill Easterly, and even C.K. Prahalad), explaining why markets are not serving the poor, and demonstrating, piece by piece, why for-profit mechanisms have and will continue to trump charity in terms of lifting people out of poverty.