iDE Global

Farmers. Homemakers. Marketers. Technologists. Advisors. Teachers. Managers. Entrepreneurs.

iDE is a global effort that spans offices in 14 countries, encompassing 4 social enterprises, employing over 1,000 people directly, and indirectly enabling many more through our market-based approaches in agriculture; water, sanitation, and hygiene; and finance

Our Values—

Our beliefs are best summarized in a series of simple statements that guide our daily actions.

Poor women and men have the right to a secure livelihood. Markets are the most powerful force for significant, widespread and lasting impact on rural prosperity. The rural poor are customers, producers, and entrepreneurs. We listen to and learn from the people we work with. We value innovation and entrepreneurship. We are results-oriented, aiming for significant impacts for large numbers of people. We strive for economic, social, and environmental equity and sustainability.

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It all began with a simple idea—

Creating a global force for change based on the power of business to solve poverty.

When Paul Polak founded International Development Enterprises (iDE) in 1982, his idea that business was the solution to poverty was new and untested. Thirty-four years later, Paul’s concept has been proven not only by iDE but also by the increasing number of established and new organizations that have embraced this approach.

  1. Starting in 1982

    Reinventing the donkey cart

    iDE's first project emerged from Paul Polak’s visit to a Somalian refugee camp in 1982. Paul noticed that the refugees were carrying wood, water, and food by hand or with a very inefficient cart pulled by a donkey. Using abandoned car parts for affordability and working with displaced blacksmiths in the camps, Paul modified the donkey cart so that it had a more efficient center of gravity, enabling it to carry more weight. He then assisted the blacksmiths in selling these improved carts to other refugees for $450. With the new cart, a buyer could earn $200 a month, paying back the loan in 2.5 months. Five hundred carts were sold, producing more than $1 million of net income for cart owners the three years of the project.

  2. The 1980s

    Pumping it up

    The problem in Bangladesh in the early 1980s was the lack of irrigation in the dry season. Although some farmers had obtained diesel pumps from the government, they charged their neighbors high sums instead of making the water available at a reasonable rate. iDE believed that manually-powered irrigation “treadle pumps” could solve the problem and allow small-scale farmers to bypass the “water lords” and increase their productivity. In a five-year period, iDE increased annual sales from 14,000 to 75,000. As of 2015, more than 1.5 million treadle pumps have been sold in Bangladesh, creating $1.4 billion in net additional income per year.

    The success of these projects confirmed iDE’s mission that simple, affordable technologies enable hardworking rural households to become micro-entrepreneurs, creating a path out of poverty that is both sustainable and replicable.

  3. The 1990s

    Market expansion

    iDE’s initial successes demonstrated that entrepreneurs were everywhere, including refugee camps in Somalia and small farms in Bangladesh. Given the right technology and access to open markets, these struggling populations could increase their income and rise out of poverty. Over the last three decades, iDE has expanded its footprint to engage with local markets in more than 11 countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

    From carts and pumps, our technology and service solutions have expanded to include drip irrigation kits, Farm Business Advisors, private enterprise engagement, collection centers, market facilitation, improved latrines, clean water filters, and micro-finance options, to list only a few.

  4. 1995

    The rise of WASH

    iDE’s entry into designing solutions around water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) began in 1995. Staff in Vietnam noticed that households were elevating the treadle pumps in order to capture water in buckets, which they could then use in their homes for cooking and cleaning, as well as to irrigate household gardens. Realizing that a hand pump would be more useful, iDE designed a more inexpensive, easier-to-install model, resulting in sales of over 64,000 pumps. This caught the attention of the Vietnamese government, who wanted to know if iDE could achieve similar results with latrines.

    Not only was iDE successful in selling latrines, our new process for designing, marketing, and delivering latrines was adopted by the Vietnamese government, as well as many organizations working to improve sanitation coverage. And our success with household irrigation pumps and latrines led us to realize that clean water was a prerequisite for our customers to be able to improve their livelihoods, which gave rise to our current full-sector market approach to WASH.

    From Vietnam to Cambodia, then Bangladesh and Nepal, and now to Ghana, and Ethiopia, the approach of developing markets for sanitation and clean water has brought WASH solutions such as improved toilets and water filters to nearly 4 million individuals so far, and the adoption trend hasn’t crested yet.

  5. Today

    From products to services

    Along the way, iDE has learned that the key to market-based solutions to poverty isn’t any specific technology. It’s how that technology—right-sized, resource-smart, and affordable—is implemented in the particular region, market, and client base that determines its success and sustainability. We have developed an entire service suite for ensuring market viability, including partnerships with local providers, knowledge and training in the use and maintenance of technology, and ensuring the availability of necessary inputs. We’ve also identified the need to extend credit to low-income populations so they can afford to adopt technology and other life-changing products.

    In order to continue to be a positive force for progress, we at iDE have constantly challenged ourselves to learn from the past and to seek out new technologies and interventions in every place in which we do business.

Our leadership—

Overseeing a global organization of over 1,000 staff working in more than 14 countries.

Country Directors

Senior Leadership

Senior Advisors

Board Of Directors

Contact Us—


USA, Global Headquarters

Posner Center for International Development
1031 33rd St., #270
Denver, CO 80205
Phone: (720) 924-1227


9 Higgins Avenue
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 0A3


Mainyard Studios
90 Wallis Rd.
Hackney Wick, London E9 5LN

Country Programs


Burkina Faso

iDE Burkina Faso
Sector 23, street 29-18,
Address 06 BP 9532 Ouagadougou 06


iDE Cambodia
PO Box 1577
House 97A, Street 15BT (Ta Phon), Sansom Kosal 1, Boeung Tumpun
Phnom Penh
+855 923 540 or +855 923 541


iDE Ethiopia
PO Box 7892
Addis Ababa


iDE Ghana
House No. 204, Jisonaayili Street, Tamale-Northern Region


iDE Honduras
Honduras Business Center, Torre Nova 
Paseo Comercial Los Próceres
Tegucigalpa, M.D.C.


iDE Mozambique
Avenida do Zimbabwe, no 868


iDE Nepal
PO Box 2674, Bakhundol, Lalitpur


iDE Nicaragua
Altamira III Etapa, Embajada de México 75 varas arriba, frente a la trenza, Apartamentos Mendieta #3, Managua, Nicaragua


iDE Vietnam
22 Lane 178, Thai Ha St., Hanoi


iDE Zambia
Plot No 5B
Twin Palm Road
Kabulonga, Lusaka

Headquarters Departments

Fund Development

Lizz Ellis

Global Operations

Karry Dangerfield


John Passauer

Communications & Marketing

KC Koch

General Office

Global Initiatives


F. Conor Riggs

Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene

Greg Lestikow

Evidence and Analytics

Chris Nicoletti


Nadia Campos

Climate Resilience

John Choptiany

Our employment opportunities—

We’re looking for people who are committed to using entrepreneurship to enable change for people in poverty. Is that you?

For more information on open positions, and to learn how to apply, see links below.

iDE takes pride in our talented and diverse workforce. Minorities, women, and individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply.  Hiring, promotion, and compensation of employees are conducted without regard to race, color, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, genetics, disability, or age.

Interns and Volunteers — U.S. Based

none currently available

Interns and Volunteers — Outside the U.S.

none currently available

Other opportunities to partner with iDE—

We often need independent organizations or individuals to partner with us for short-term projects to supplement our expertise or provide independent verification of our work.

For more information on open opportunities, and to learn how to apply, see links below.

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