Category: Events -

6 December 2012 | Posted By: Ilana Martin

Bill Clinton Speaks for iDE

iDE’s Second Annual Leaders in Their Fields Luncheon, held on December 4 in downtown Denver, was a great success. More than 700 attendees gathered to celebrate iDE’s 30 years of sustainable solutions to poverty, honor our customers, and launch a new initiative that will bring 26 organizations together in a unique collaborative center for international development.

The assembled guests got a big surprise when President Bill Clinton, who was in Denver for a speaking engagement, made a special appearance to express his support for iDE’s work. Clinton spoke about his own experiences working in Africa to improve agricultural practices, and emphasized that seemingly insurmountable global problems can be solved with the right efforts. “All of these things are before you. “This is stuff I’ve seen with my own eyes,” he said, “These are the kinds of things you can do, and that’s why I wanted to be here,” he said.


Bill Clinton

Clinton stressed that collaborative market-based approaches hold the key to solving the world’s most pressing challenges. “I think the idea that you should work together, pool your resources, reinforce each other and not fall all over each other is very important,” he said. He concluded his address by noting that the problems faced by the poor in developing countries ultimately affect the entire world. “I just want to encourage you. We are not going to like the world we live in if we continue to allow climate change, instability, and income inequality to dominate the 21st century.”iDE’s new CEO, Timothy Prewitt said, “President Clinton’s commitment to African agriculture is directly in line with iDE’s. His central message—that African nations can most effectively grow food themselves, lifting smallholders out of poverty and increasing production across the continent—gives iDE’s model a ringing endorsement, and inspires us to do even more.”


Tim Prewitt speaking

The centerpiece of the event was the presentation of the Leaders in Their Fields Award to Doña Linda Manueles, a farmer and entrepreneur from Marcala, Honduras. On her farm, Manueles uses an iDE treadle pump and drip irrigation kit to grow 14 different types of vegetables, which she sells for a profit. She has invested her extra income in other micro enterprises including raising geese and rabbits, and starting her own seed bank from her home. After receiving the award, Manueles explained how iDE practices help local Honduran families invest in their own communities, and thanked the organization for its continued efforts in her area.


Linda Manueles

Other featured speakers included Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper who spoke about the importance of entrepreneurship, and Denver City Councilman Albus Brooks, who welcomed iDE and its partners in the D90 Network to their future home in a restored 19th century horse barn in the Curtis Park neighborhood of Denver.


Governor Hickenlooper

After the event, Prewitt noted, “Today was a terrific day for us, a chance for some of our supporters to learn more about our contribution to poverty. Denver is increasingly concerned with global poverty and the challenge of meeting food resource needs in the coming decades.”

Read about the event in the Denver Post here. Or, in The San Francisco Chronicle (AP) here.

Or watch a clip of the event on Denver’s CBS 4 News site here.

Photos by Galen Clarke


Leaders in Their Fields Luncheon
22 March 2012 | Posted By: Ilana Martin

World Water Day 2012 day of service – in Denver today, March 22!

I’m sitting here at Green Spaces Denver, campaign headquarters for our Water4Food 2012 day of service in honor of United Nations World Water Day, which this year is focused on food security. As our readers know, that’s iDE’s main focus.

There’s a lot of excitement and momentum from volunteers showing up to help spread the word in our local community.  We’re going out and hitting the streets with postcards, stickers, tee shirts to share facts like these:

Did you know that it takes 635 gallons of water to produce one hamburger? Or that 397 gallons of water are needed to produce 35 oz of cane sugar? The truth is, without water there is no food. Water scarcity already affects every continent and more than 40 percent of the people on our planet. This year’s International World Water Day focuses on the critical relationship between water access and food security.

iDE, along with Card Gnome, Green Spaces, and our event sponsors, brings Water4Food 2012 to the Denver area to raise awareness for this issue and money to prevent famine for families in West Africa.

What can individuals do?

  • follow a healthier, sustainable diet;
  • consume less water-intensive products;
  • reduce the scandalous food wastage: 30% of the food produced worldwide is never eaten and the water used to produce it is definitively lost!
  • produce more food, of better quality, with less water.

Join Us
There’s still time to volunteer! If you can spend a couple of hours taking stickers and information sheets to Denver area businesses, sign up at All volunteers are invited to join us at the Water4Food 2012 party tonight at 5:30pm at Green Spaces.

Can’t volunteer?
Purchase a Water4Food 2012 greeting card plan at Card Gnome, and 50% of the proceeds will provide families in the Sahel region of West Africa with the tools and knowledge needed to create and sustain a sustainable income from small plot farming, enabling them to increase food security and lift themselves out of poverty.

Your plan allows you to send 25 cards throughout one year. You choose the perfect card from Card Gnome’s selection of thousands of cards for all occasions; write your personal message and Card Gnome mails it for you. You can even schedule cards for delivery a year in advance.

With the purchase of a card plan, you gain a ticket with a guest to the party at Green Spaces tonight. Just show up and we’ll have your name on a list along with others.

If you would like to donate directly to iDE, please click here.

There are many ways to get involved in this issue, no matter where you are!

Visit the U.N.’s World Water Day site ( to find World Water Day events all over the world, downloadable informational materials and more.

Twitter: Join the conversation using #Water4Food and #WorldWaterDay and give a shout to @CardGnome and @ideorg or any of the other great sponsors listed below.

Facebook: We love sharing water4food information and you can visit our pages to access videos, pictures, blog posts and other items we’ve been sharing recently:

Our Sponsors:

Green Spaces
Silver Bullet Water Treatment, LLC
Colorado Water 2012
Colorado Public Television 12
Elephant Energy
Inspire Commerce
Edge of Seven
Ellen Bruss Design
Conscious Coffees
Sticker Giant
Rage Unlimited
Runa Tea Company

I’m incredibly inspired by all of these volunteers who are taking time out of their busy days to help us tackle this issue.  Thank you to our sponsors, partners staff, volunteers, and news media who are working hard to spread the word on this very important day.

27 September 2011 | Posted By: Ilana Martin

Photos: Polak Social Innovation Award

On September 22, the inaugural iDE Paul Polak Award for Social Innovation was given to its namesake at a gala event marking the close of the Design for the Other 90% exhibit at RedLine Gallery in Denver, Colorado. The well-attended event celebrated Polak’s contributions to the bottom of the pyramid design movement. Speakers included artist and RedLine founder Laura Merage, Ball Aerospace President and CEO David Taylor, iDE CEO Al Doerksen, and Metropolitan Homes President and CEO Peter Kudla.

The iDE Paul Polak Award for Social Innovation honors the important legacy of Paul Polak, whose work has inspired millions of the world’s poorest people to become entrepreneurs; increasing their income and livelihoods, and enabling them to live a life beyond subsistence poverty. This award will be presented annually to a deserving individual social innovator or organization that has significantly advanced design focusing on the “other 90%,” or otherwise demonstrated significant impact using principles articulated by Paul Polak throughout his career. In subsequent years, iDE will select a jury of industry leaders and development practitioners to review nominations, and select the award recipient from that pool of nominees.


Attendees gather at RedLine under a canopy of Nokero solar-powered light bulbs


Paul with donkey

Paul Polak answers questions with a donkey, which represents his first income enhancing design project, an affordable donkey cart sold in Somalian refugee camps.


Al Doerksen and Aggie Polak

iDE CEO Al Doerksen with Paul Polak's wife, Aggie

Dave Taylor

Ball Aerospace President and CEO Dave Taylor presents the award

Al Doerksen

Al Doerksen comments on Paul's legacy


Paul Polak and Peter Kudla

Paul Polak and Metropolitan Homes President and CEO Peter Kudla

24 August 2011 | Posted By: Ilana Martin

Join Us in Honoring Paul Polak

Paul Polak Award


On September 22, iDE Founder Paul Polak, author of Out of Poverty and the visionary behind the Design for the Other 90% concept, will be the inaugural recipient of the iDE Paul Polak Award for Social Innovation. For the past three decades, Paul Polak has worked with famers in countries around the world to help design and produce low cost, income generating products that have already moved 19 million people out of poverty.

Established in 2011, concurrent with the closing of the “Design for the Other 90%” exhibit at RedLine in Denver, the Paul Polak Award for Social Innovation honors the important legacy of Paul Polak, whose work has inspired 19 million of the world’s poorest people to become entrepreneurs; increasing their income and livelihoods, and bringing their families out of poverty for generations. This award will be presented annually to a deserving individual social innovator or organization that has significantly advanced design that serves the “other 90%,” or otherwise demonstrated significant impact using principles articulated by Paul Polak throughout his career.

In its inaugural year, the award will be given to its namesake, Dr. Paul Polak. In subsequent years, iDE will select a jury of industry leaders and development practitioners to review nominated individuals and entities, and choose the award recipient from that pool of nominees. Each year, iDE will offer an organization partner the opportunity to sponsor the award in its name.

We hope you’ll be able to join us in celebrating and honoring Paul Polak’s legacy. You can read more about the event and purchase individual tickets or reserved seating tables online here. If you can’t attend, but would like to support the award by making a donation in honor of Paul, please click here.

14 July 2011 | Posted By: Ilana Martin

Art is Creative Problem Solving

Design for the Other 90

“Design is creative problem solving. Art is creative problem solving.”

So says iDE founder Paul Polak in a new interview with Colorado Public Radio’s Ryan Warner. Paul gives the reporter a guided tour of the just-opened Design for the Other 90% exhibit–along with a demonstration of a treadle pump in action!–while covering such topics as how iDE came about, the role of design in improving livelihoods in developing countries, why we don’t give products away, and what a collection of affordable technologies is doing in an art gallery.

You can stream the full interview here.

24 June 2011 | Posted By: Ilana Martin

The Future of Corporations

Paul Polak


What is the future of the corporation? How can capitalism be a force for positive transformation?

iDE Founder Paul Polak’s recent talk at TEDx Mile High may challenge your assumptions about the answers to these questions. His talk details the tremendous shared value that lies within product and system designs for the bottom 90% of the income pyramid.

You can watch the video of Paul’s talk here.

5 May 2011 | Posted By: Ilana Martin

A Lever to Move the Earth

Hoover tattoo

The following is a transcript of iDE CEO Al Doerksen’s remarks at the kickoff breakfast for the upcoming Design for the Other 90% exhibit.

In one of my other lives, I am an amateur photographer. Among other things, I photograph people’s tattoos. Lots of interesting designs. Crosses. Skulls. Hawks. Grim reapers. Cats. Icons. I was a bit surprised to see that someone had tattoo’ed a Hoover vacuum clear on her arm? What is that about?

Now, if IDE employees were forced, by policy, to wear an iconic tattoo on their arms, it would be that of IDE’s most successful technology, the treadle pump. Based on principles articulated by Archimedes himself, this simple water pump has been acquired by some 2 million small plot farmers in Asia and Africa. The irrigation achieved with this low cost design allows farmer users to double or even triple their food production, hence their income. This little pump dramatically rewrites the circumstances of people’s livelihoods allowing now for food security, access to better health care, rain proof housing, and education for both boys and girls.

This little device is not just a water pump. It is a money pump. At 2 million units sold generating a minimum of $300 per pump, it represents a staggering 600 million dollars annually in additional rural household income. 3 billion dollars over a five year period.

Archimedes also said, give me a place to stand and a lever long enough and I will move the earth. Well, we are here to announce that the place to stand is Colorado, and we are going to demonstrate why that is correct.

The Design for the Other 90% exhibit coming to RedLine under the join sponsorship of iDE and RedLine will be a powerful demonstration that simple machines and simple ideas translate into powerful global impact.

iDE was founded in Colorado by Paul Polak, in his words, still very much full of “p and v”, and still very much alive and well. I think it was he who coined the phrase “Design for the other 90%.” Paul observed that much of today’s product and business innovation was targeted at the more affluent 10% of society, and that as a consequence we are missing 90% of the opportunities.

iDE is proud to be based in Colorado because we have come to recognize that this state is full of people who have the energy, the passion, the commitment and the insight required for this exciting mission.

27 April 2011 | Posted By: Ilana Martin

A Design Revolution in Colorado

Governor Hickenlooper

On Tuesday, iDE and Denver’s RedLine officially kicked off “Design for the Other 90%” a major event which will bring the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum’s acclaimed exhibition to Colorado, along with other events showcasing the ways designers are addressing challenges in both the developing world and here in the U.S. The exhibit showcases low-cost solutions to the problems facing nearly 7 billion people in the areas of shelter, health, water, education, energy and transportation.

The exhibit’s name refers to a central thesis of iDE Founder Paul Polak, who noted in his book Out of Poverty, “90% of the world’s designers spend all their time working on solutions to the problems of the richest 10 percent of the world’s customers. A revolution in design is needed to reverse this silly ratio and reach the other 90 percent.”

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper was on hand to address the approximately 300 attendees. Also speaking at the event were iDE CEO Al Doerksen, RedLine Founder Laura Merage, JP Morgan Chase’s Vice President of Philanthropy Jill Barkin, and Peter Kudla of Metropolitan Homes and RedLine. “Design for the Other 90% will be a powerful demonstration that simple machines and simple ideas translate into powerful global impact, said Doerksen.

The exhibit will run July 8 through September 25 at RedLine, 2350 Arapahoe Street in Denver. We’ll post more information about the exhibition and concurrent events here as it becomes available.

29 March 2011 | Posted By: Ilana Martin


Here is the latest newsletter from iDE Senior Advisor Andrew Romanoff:

What do you get when you cross a shower and a latrine? If you answered “an episode of Seinfeld,” you’ve been watching too many reruns. (That was my guess, too.)

In Cambodia, relieving yourself is no laughing matter. Sanitation-related illnesses claim more than 1,000 lives every month. And at $300, the price of a typical toilet exceeds most Cambodians’ annual income.

That’s why, as I reported in January, our team in Phnom Penh has been promoting a low-cost alternative: the $35 Easy Latrine. The device is manufactured locally and can be installed in a single day; 11,500 have already been sold.

Now the same crew is testing another vital innovation: a combination latrine/shower/drip-irrigation system. Click on the video below to learn how the Easy Shower may make thousands of Cambodians better off (and George Costanza awfully jealous).

Easy Shower video


In my last newsletter, I suggested some reasons Americans should take an interest in the rest of the world. Our economy and our national security, I contended, are inextricably linked to our neighbors’ fortunes. Most respondents agreed.

“Prosperous nations tend to start fewer wars,” wrote Larry Kaufman, a “semi-retired journalist” and former railroad executive from Genesee. “They also make better customers than do poor nations.”

My friend and former colleague, Col. Joe Rice, reflected on his five tours of duty in Iraq. “Poverty, lack of education, and lack of opportunity are the main drivers of instability and terrorism,” he wrote. “A little money spent on international relief and development is in our own national interest.”

Then he added, “Oh, it probably is morally right as well.”

George Schumm, a professor of logic in Ohio, underlined that point: “A suffering human being is a suffering human being, and it matters not, from a moral perspective, whether it’s your suffering, that of your child, or neighbor, or fellow citizen, or someone living on Mars.”

None of these arguments, however, swayed a reader on the East Coast. “I don’t care about this,” a man named Aaron declared. “I live in New York.”

I’ll give another New Yorker the last word. In an article published in Outside Magazine in 2009, Nicholas Kristof, the Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist and author, explained why some causes (the plight of a homeless hawk on the Upper East Side of Manhattan) attract more attention than others (the genocide in Darfur).

“We intervene,” Mr. Kristof wrote, “not because of stories of desperate circumstances but when we can be cheered up with positive stories of success and transformation.… The irony: Altruism creates its own selfish reward. Or, to put it another way, nobody gains more selfish pleasure than those who act selflessly.”

(You can read Mr. Kristof’s article by clicking here.)


I’ll be sharing other stories of IDE’s success in the weeks ahead. Please join me to learn more about our work and how you can get involved:

  • Denver Mile High Rotary Club, Wednesday, April 6, 7 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., University Club, 1673 Sherman St., Denver.
  • Castle Rock High Noon Rotary Club, Thursday, April 7, 12 p.m., Philip S. Miller Library, 100 S. Wilcox St., Castle Rock.
  • Brown-Bag Lunch, Monday, April 11, 12 p.m. to 1 p.m., at IDE, 3rd floor conference room, 10403 W. Colfax Ave, Lakewood. (Please note new date.) This month’s discussion will focus on Latin America.
  • Denver West Rotary Club, Tuesday, April 12, 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., Rolling Hills Country Club, 15707 W. 26th Ave., Golden.
  • Denver Cherry Creek Rotary Club, Tuesday, April 19, 7 a.m., Inn at Cherry Creek, 233 Clayton St., Denver.

To schedule a presentation, contact Michelle Warner at To volunteer, contact Dana Cousteau at

Thank you.


Andrew Romanoff

16 March 2011 | Posted By: Ilana Martin

IDE’s April Brown Bag Lunch – Updated


IDE Senior Advisor Andrew Romanoff is hosting an informational gathering for people interested in learning more about IDE’s work. This month, the special guest speaker will be Alma Lizarraga, coordinator for iDE’s programs in Latin America. Bring a lunch if you’d like. Please RSVP to Michelle Warner at if you plan to attend.

When: Monday, April 11, 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.

Where: 10403 W. Colfax Ave. #500, Lakewood, CO, 80215, in the third floor conference room.

We hope to see you there!


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