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International Development Enterprises (IDE)

We leverage the power of entrepreneurship to lift people out of poverty. Your investment will begin a chain reaction to help people increase their income, provide health and happiness to their families, and to experience life to its fullest.

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General Information

Official Name
International Development Enterprises​​​​​​​
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Offers Additional Colorado State Tax Credit
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1031 33rd St. #270
Denver, CO 80205
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Mission Statement

IDE confronts the challenge of rural poverty by developing sustainable solutions that serve poor women and men, enabling them to access clean water, increase production, create wealth, and improve their quality of life.

Organization History

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.

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, on credit, for $450. With the new cart, a buyer could earn $200 a month, paying back the loan with interest in 2.5 months. Five hundred carts were sold, producing more than $1 million of net income for cart owners in one year.

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.

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.

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, Burkina Faso, 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.

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.


IDE is making an incredible impact around the world - and all of that comes back to Colorado. Our team here in the state works tirelessly to do a wide variety of tasks, but none of them are possible without core funding.

Providing core funding to IDE strengthens its capacity to expand and develop its business models in previously unexplored sectors and regions. Our relatively recent expansion into WASH, for instance, could not be possible without the generous support of funders who understand the need for building core strength in order to be able to later expand into different, new programs. In addition, the existence of pilot programs - without which IDE's technologies could never be tested and implemented to scale, our eventual goal with all of our projects.


In 2019, we are leveraging the power of the private sector in new ways; plugging into the global dialogues on water, agriculture and health; and reaching even more families in countries around the world.

iDE was honored to work with more than a half dozen corporate partners, including Toro Irrigation, American Standard, and RLG International. With their technical and financial support, we were able to deliver farm equipment to Zambia and Honduras, and develop
new products for Bangladeshi families. We extended our reach to new geographies and began a new chapter with these companies.

We also joined the US Water Partnership, a consortium of US water organizations, and made a new commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative to reach one million people with clean water or sanitation within three years, a target we are well on our way to reaching.

At iDE, we know the power of business to fight poverty. We see it every day, in 11 countries around the world. On behalf of all of us at iDE, thank you for your support and partnerships. We are grateful, as are more than 6 million households around the world that directly felt your impact. Thank you.


Handouts will never end poverty. IDE supports the rural poor in their fight against poverty by helping them learn to earn sustainable incomes. Supporting these entrepreneurs is not charity-it is an investment in their future. Supporting iDE insures that we can continue to provide the rural poor with the tools they need to succeed. And it works. IDE has helped almost 20 million people so far, and its work is just beginning.

On behalf of the entire iDE Board, I encourage you to support IDE. Every dollar donated to iDE results in a ten-fold increase in the income for the families in the developing world.

Bob Hill


"I am thanking iDE very much, especially for women. Women, have seen that now we are not relying on our husbands. We do our own projects to assist our husbands to make our families to look better and to eat better and to grow better. And even have a house." - Veronica Sianchenga, Zambian farmer - worked with iDE since 2008.

"Poverty has weighted on us for so long. Now that iDE is here, we will overcome it." - Bekelech Wubeto - Marketing Agent for irrigation technologies in Ethiopia - worked with iDE since 2010.

"From the time iDE programs came into being I have been transformed into a modern farmer. I am able at least to send all my eight children to school, at least with some food on the table everyday." Moses Kaleba - Zambian farmer - worked with iDE since 2009.

"We have joy in our hearts, because we have built our assets." Mukeye Leman - Ethiopian farmer from a women's economic group - worked with iDE since 2012.

"Being an FBA [Farm Business Advisor) is stressful as there are so many problems to deal with. But I am willing to help my community. And with the commission that iDE is helping establish from retailers I can gain a good income in the future." Davies Mwanamoonga - Zambian Farm Business Advisor - Worked with iDE since 2009.

"I have lived over 70 years and no one ever come sell latrine here. It's been uncomfortable to go defecating in the bush especially at night and in the rain. Moreover, my grandchildren are growing up now that I worry about them every day. An iDE latrine will help us a lot..." Chhoem Mak - iDE Customer in Cambodia - 2015

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