One of Paul Polak's first innovations for the poor, back in the early 1980s, was to re-engineer donkey carts for refugees in Somalia, a project he and his colleagues jokingly named Ass Haul International. Their carts, which were more flexible for users and more comfortable for the donkey, cost around $450 and could generate revenues of $200 a month. The increased steady income that the new carts gave those who bought them offered Mr Polak his first proof that innovation and business can be a powerful tool for getting people out of poverty. Although it was a heretical thought when Mr Polak started out, today the idea that business is better able to help lift millions of people out of poverty than international aid or charity borders on conventional wisdom....

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