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IDE Canada is a non-profit organization dedicated to lifting the world's poorest people out of poverty by harnessing the power of the market.
Our focus is on smallholder farmers in developing countries: those who own less than one hectare of land and earn less than $1 per day.
Our work is based on two basic principles:
1. Subsistence farmers are entrepreneurs - Subsistence farmers escape poverty for good when they can sell their produce at a profit. By opening doors to market opportunities, IDE programs are helping millions earn a living they never thought possible.
2. Subsistence farmers are customers - Subsistence farmers are ready to invest in their future. IDE gives them that opportunity. With innovative design of affordable agricultural equipment, IDE is connecting smallholder farmers with the tools they need to grow a decent living.
The path to prosperity:
IDE works with local entrepreneurs to set up networks that locally produce, distribute and service all of our technologies.
This creates jobs and generates wealth throughout the local economy.
In the early 1980s, University of Western Ontario graduate, psychiatrist and entrepreneur Paul Polak dreamed up a plan to fight poverty using business principles.
Along with Winnipeg businessman Art DeFehr and a young Ontario graduate named Gerry Dyck, he formed an enterprise that built donkey carts from scrap and sold them to enterprising refugees, who then made money transporting water and other goods in the camps.
Building on this success, Polak formed IDE and set about marketing treadle pumps in Bangladesh. The low-cost foot-powered irrigation pumps provided a rapid and dramatic boost to farmers who had been living on a dollar a day. Many of them doubled their income in the first year. Since then, IDE has helped to increase the incomes of over three million farmers by developing low-cost irrigation technology and identifying better market opportunities.
The key to IDE's unique approach, says Polak, is to "learn from the customer. I interview at least 100 farmers every year. And that's what everybody at IDE does so well. That's where the strength of the model comes from."