Summary of Out of Poverty

What Works When Traditional Approaches Fail (BK Currents)

Berrett-Koehler, more...

Buy the book

Out of Poverty book summary
How to help millions of subsistence farmers: Cheap irrigation and homemade fertilizer work; government handouts don’t.


9 Overall

10 Importance

9 Innovation

8 Style


Free-market advocate Paul Polak is an atypical poverty expert. He compellingly argues that handouts do not alleviate poverty and might make it worse. Instead, he insists, the true solution to poverty lies in unleashing the poor’s entrepreneurial power. Polak says successful entrepreneurs like him are the ones who can help the poor make more money. His company designs cheap water pumps and irrigation systems that sell for a profit while helping subsistence farmers make more money. Although he frequently repeats the same points, Polak’s treatise is a lively read. getAbstract recommends Polak’s point of view to readers who seek a contrary – and practical – perspective on the problem of global poverty.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How to address world poverty by developing products for the rural poor;
  • What role subsistence agriculture can play;
  • How to refute the three myths of global poverty; and
  • How to make “manure tea” and why it is a good idea.


From Subsistence to Middle Class
Millions of poor families worldwide eke out a meager subsistence by growing their own food, selling whatever crops they don’t eat and working odd jobs. Some 800 million people scrape by, earning less than a dollar a day while cultivating an acre or less...
Get the key points from this book in less than 10 minutes. Learn more about our products or log in

About the Author

Paul Polak founded International Development Enterprises, which sells products to rural farmers in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Ethiopia and other poor countries. In 2007, IDE received a $13 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Polak won the Scientific American Top 50 award and an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award.

Comment on this summary

More on this topic

By the same author

Customers who read this summary also read

More by category