A serial entrepreneur and humanitarian, Paul Polak inspired generations to adopt the market-based approach to assist those living on less than $2 a day to earn an income through business.
Involve the entire family in order to achieve gender equality
To build Nepalese farmers’ resilience, iDE engages in what we’ve termed the “Commercial Pocket Approach.”
Watersheds are crucial to the sustainability of businesses, communities, and ecosystems. In Honduras, we’re working with people all along the watershed to protect water at its source, ensuring it continues flowing for generations to come.
Mariana now has a business connecting farms directly to restaurants, ensuring that everyone benefits from increased service that ensures profit and better food.
This model economically empowers women as they invest and save money for the future, but also addresses aspects of social empowerment through new relationships and increased agency.
Cyclone Idai devastated many communities where we work. Join us in helping these farming families in the long-term recovery and rebuild.
Tropical greenhouse technology incorporates drip irrigation and ultraviolet plastic filtration cover that both protects the plants from heavy rainfall but also accelerates photosynthesis, resulting in healthier, larger produce.
iDE’s Sama Sama social enterprise is implementing a Ghana-specific psychometric survey to increase the pool of eligible applicants for sanitation finance.
Why WASH organizations need to hire and grow business-savvy leaders
Tailoring existing HCD curriculum to current in-country, contextual challenges the immersion course will provide participants with real-life applications to the Human-Centered Design methodology.
Ali Gregory, Program Officer of The Geisse Foundation, shares her beliefs on philanthropy with us, explaining why she invests in sustainable development.
Why iDE believes the future is bright for people in the poorest locations.
iDE is using state-of-the-art business analytics tools to flexibly adapt to the market to drive increasing sanitation coverage.
There wasn't a disaster in Ethiopia in 2016, although they had one of their worst famine years ever. What changed from the 1980s and what can we learn from that for the future?
In order to jump start businesses in developing economies, a special type of investor is required.
Lors Thmey operates as a business unit within iDE Cambodia with a mission to improve the economic resilience of poor rural households.
iDE is facilitating change by supporting a network of Farm Business Advisors (FBAs), community agents who support small-scale farmers, who are often located in remote areas far away from commercial centers.
STAFF PROFILE: Chiara Ambrosino is dedicated to finding sustainable ways for people to grow food in difficult climates. As iDE’s Senior Advisor on Climate and Resilience, she leads our country teams in strategies to build farmers’ resilience to climate change.
The Eblings joined iDE and 11 other guests on a trip to Nepal and Bhutan where they saw how their support has enabled iDE to deliver transformative programming in Nepal.
Understanding that small-scale farming families have severe resource limitations, iDE works to help minimize the pressure on labor, income, water, and energy by identifying and re-designing technologies existing at the intersection of these four resources, which can have a life-changing impact on struggling farmers.
Llionel Simbarashe Zisengwe is in pursuit of the entrepreneurial spirit. He’s the project manager for a Farm Business Advisor program in Mozambique. He recruits Farm Business Advisors that are motivated, knowledgeable, personable, mobile, and successful farmers themselves.
As champions of design thinking and innovation, iDE’s Design Ambassadors identify new opportunities to inject innovation and design—be it a product, service, or business—within local programming.
A partnership between American Standard, iDE and RFL Plastics resulted in the SaTo pan: a mass-produced hygienic latrine solution for Bangladesh.
Microentrepreneurs have sold 200,000 toilets in just 18 months. This is a major milestone—for iDE’s WASH team and for our partners, who dedicated two years to lay the foundation for this market system, and then a year and a half to catalyze sales.
Intelligent use of subsidies can make a real difference for the lives of the very poor without distorting the market. But it takes an understanding of the context to get it right.
The migration of young people from small villages and farms to the city opens up additional options for improving the lives of those who remain behind. Making improved toilets affordable can spur increasing sanitation coverage by marketing to this newly affluent group.
Better outputs require better inputs, which is why iDE's Farm Business Advisors sell high-quality seeds to their clients.
“The solar pump is very interesting to me. So far, all of the pumps I have seen and known have been powered by man, animal, wind, diesel, or electricity, and they rely on many fast-moving parts. This pump is different because it has no moving parts, and the source of energy is the sun.”
Farm Business Advisors are called on to perform many tasks. One of David Mbwita’s is to recommend his clients for small loans based on his understanding of their ability to repay.
In recent years, iDE’s work has been recognized by the global community for its excellence and commitment to innovation in building markets for poor, rural households.
Juddy has been working with John Muta, a Farm Business Advisor (FBA), for the past few years, and through talking with her we came to understand how the FBA program is affecting women’s empowerment in the household. Using the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI), which measures empowerment across domains ranging from decision-making power to control over income, we asked Juddy about her roles.
Two farmers participate in a quantitative assessment by our iQ team, which will be paired with results from a qualitative deep dive administered by our Human-Centered Design team. We interviewed them to understand the successes and barriers to growing and selling a very specific kind of sweet potato: an orange-fleshed sweet potato, high in Vitamin A.
Nicaragua is known for its lakes and rivers—water scarcity has not been a problem until now. The rains are coming less frequently, and weather patterns are less predictable. Farmers like Candelario are having to pivot their practices—making such changes as switching from traditional flood irrigation to water-saving drip irrigation.
Gita Pariyar lives in Lahachok village, within the Kaski district of central Nepal. She is raising 2 daughters and a son while her husband works as a laborer in the Middle East. A member of the disadvantaged Dalit community, she helps supplement her family’s income through agriculture. But she’s noticed a change in the rainfall in Nepal.
Doña Julia lives in a region of Honduras called Marcala, known for its high-quality coffee production. Undernourishment is a widespread problem among coffee farmers in this region. Normally, farmers only earn an income during the four months of coffee harvesting—leaving farmers eight months each year, known as the “thin months,” to survive on their coffee earnings.
Building markets for sanitation always has challenges, but the conditions in Vietnam provide particular barriers. From the top levels of Vietnam’s communist leadership to local government employees, iDE needed to overcome negative perceptions of sales and marketing in order to drive latrine adoption and behavior change.
iDE provides farmers access to improved seeds and training in proven agricultural practices to increase crop yields that enable small-scale households to have food year-round.
iDE is expanding sanitation coverage to everyone in Cambodia through an innovative program that makes toilets attractive and affordable to all people, including the rural poor.
iDE has a culture of rigor and transparency, where the information about our impact on the lives of our customers is rooted in reality and is readily available to anyone.
In 2009, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funded a collaboration that combined experience and wisdom of designers and field staff that eventually coalesced into the HCD Toolkit, a methodology specifically for organizations working with poor communities to create products that are feasible, desirable, and viable.
A mother of five, Ho Thi Hiu used to supplement her household’s meager income by growing rice. She would also make a small profit by buying piglets in a nearby town, raising them, and selling them fully-grown. But raising pigs is no easy task.
The use of demonstration plots helps convince skeptical farmers that agricultural technology, like drip irrigation, can make a difference in crop yields and boost their incomes.
Part of iDE's Human-Centered Design process is called a Deep Dive, wherein team members gather insights from stakeholders on their current behaviors, needs, and opportunities.
Farm business advisors are change agents who dispense information about best practices in technology, fertilizers, pest management, and post-harvest storage through training sessions and demonstrations, as well as sell direct services, such as crop spraying.
Market-based approaches are new to the sanitation and hygiene sector in Ethiopia. Through pilot and scale-up projects, iDE brings applicable and relevant strategies to build sustainable delivery of these services to Ethiopian households.
Refugees are making new lives with the assistance of agricultural extension agents who provide training, advice, products, and services so that they can build businesses around vegetable production.
It’s not surprising that rural farmers in Burkina Faso are skeptical about technology that you tell them can double the income from their harvest. But when you show them through a demonstration, they believe.
Compared to mainstream fertilizers and air-borne applications, Fertilizer Deep Placement produces 40% less chemical runoff and 30% fewer greenhouse gas emissions. It also increases yields, leading to a win-win for the farmer and for the environment.
Mr. Nhai, whose village lies in Tuyen Quang, is a happy recipient of iDE sanitation information. “I wish I had known that it was this cheap to have a clean latrine long ago,” he said with a smile.
Irrigation systems aren't off-the-shelf kinds of purchases. They require proper design, good installation, and operator training. iDE's social enterprise iDEal Tecnologias provides these services to farmers in Nicaragua.
To overcome disasters such as crop disease, iDE works with farmers to diversify their crops and connect to markets, helping them have enough food and money to survive year-round.
In addition to dramatically decreasing the workload of women and girls, Multiple-Use Water Systems provide benefits in health and sanitation, enabling communities to improve their decisions on the allocation of water resources.
Nepal is one of the poorest countries in South Asia and still has large gaps in sanitation coverage. Despite gradual improvements, only about 43 percent of the population has access to toilets, while more than half the population continues to defecate openly.
iDE has already reached over one million people in Cambodia, who now have a safe and sanitary place to defecate, and we're on track to reach many more as sales continue to climb.
By improving access to technical assistance, market information, quality inputs, and new technologies, iDE increases value-chain efficiency and competitiveness to benefit small-scale farmers.
By using a portfolio approach, iDE demonstrates and delivers effective solutions that meet the goals of multiple partners and stakeholders, such as improved sanitary latrine coverage in populous Bangladesh.
What if one million farmers could grow more food with less water?
Axial flow pumps, power-tiller operated seeders, and mechanical reapers have the potential to transform farming practices by increasing precision and conserving resources. iDE works with local entrepreneurs who can ensure farmers have access to these machines.
In Zambia, the major food crop and staple grown by small-scale farmers is maize. But maize doesn’t return enough profit for farmers to earn an adequate income. Zambia was a market in need of intervention.
Honduras is the leading producer and exporter of coffee in Central America. Doña Julia Rivera is a coffee farmer in Marcala—a region of Honduras known for its high-quality, organic, and sustainably produced coffee beans. Working with iDE, Doña Julia has been able to expand her farm business with the help of drip irrigation and farmer training. Her farm is now an example in her community.
In rural Bangladesh, about 40 million people live without access to adequate toilets. But RFL Plastics Ltd., a regional plastics manufacturer, hadn’t identified these households as a potential customer base until they formed a partnership with iDE.
A farmer acting alone will often have to settle for less money in the small window of opportunity she has for selling. But what if this farmer can join with her neighbors, pooling their crops together to share storage and transportation costs, and provide a more attractive package for large buyers?
There wasn’t an app to help us sell sanitation to poor customers, so we built one. And we’re using it to make open defecation a thing of the past.
Open defecation is a major problem in Cambodia, leading to waterborne diseases that claim the lives of nearly 10,000 children yearly. In 2008, the Cambodian government set sanitation as a priority in order to improve people’s standard of living.
The biggest barrier to handwashing is not always the availability of water or soap, but rather knowledge. Making the connection between dirty hands and disease is the first step.
Having safe water improves the situation of women and children, who are often responsible for fetching and boiling water.
For the 40 percent of the people on the planet who do not have a toilet, acquiring one would mean keeping your one-year-old child from developing diarrhea and possibly dying from it.
Most people think that the business of businesses is making money. And while profit is at the heart of entrepreneurship, in many cases a business can be about so much more.
If you want to solve the world’s problems, you have to be where the action is—and every location is different.
iDE has been building markets for over 30 years. One thing we know for sure is that every market is different. Replication of what works in one context is not a guarantee of success in another. We replicate our approach, but each context dictates a unique solution.
Farmers are more likely to invest their money in a solution that comes from their own ideas, and from their true aspirations. iDE uses Human Centered Design to engage with the market to reveal those needs and desires to design solutions that people want to buy and entrepreneurs want to sell. Those solutions are more likely to be sustainable and cost-effective, too.
Getting to most of the world’s population isn’t easy. The road that takes you there isn’t paved, but a dirt path, overgrown with vegetation, barely big enough to get your bicycle or motor bike down. In some seasons, the path becomes mud, sucking at your tires and shoes, making each yard a chore. But if we are going to solve poverty, this is the most important distance to travel: the Last Mile.
Join the Activators Circle, iDE’s monthly sustaining donor program, to activate entrepreneurs around the world to increase their incomes and improve the lives of their families.
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