International Development Enterprises

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IDE Official Logo.png
Founded 1982
Founder Paul Polak
Type Non-governmental organization
Mission iDE creates income and livelihood opportunities for poor rural households.

iDE, formerly International Development Enterprises, is an international nonprofit organization which creates income and livelihood opportunities for poor rural households. iDE was founded in 1982 by Paul Polak, is devoted to the manufacture, marketing, and distribution of affordable, scalable micro-irrigation and low-cost water recovery systems throughout the developing world. iDE facilitates local manufacture and distribution of these products through local supply chains that sell to farmers at an affordable price which they can repay in one growing season. This strategy allows farmers to grow higher value and surplus crops, and in turn links them to high-value crop markets where they can realize profits from their higher yields.

iDE has funding affiliates in the United Kingdom, and Canada. The head office is located in Denver, United States.


iDE is an international consortium of non-profit organizations dedicated to creating an enabling environment for poor rural households to participate effectively in rural market systems so they may increase their income and begin an upward spiral out of poverty. For more than 30 years, it has focused on creating innovative solutions to development problems, whether it is through products, services, or business models. Three-quarters of people living in extreme poverty earn their living from small farms, so it helps poor rural farmers increase their agricultural productivity. In water and sanitation, iDE helps develop sustainable businesses to supply latrines and water filters to low-income households in a manner that allows for the generation of profit along the supply chain while maintaining a price appropriate for poor households. iDE measures its success with three key figures: average income gain per household (impact), number of farmers reached (scale) and total additional income generated per dollar (cost effectiveness). For every $1 invested in its projects, iDE customers generate on average $10 in additional household income, a cost effectiveness ratio of 10:1.

iDE currently operates country programs in Nepal, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Vietnam, Zambia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique, Burkina Faso, Nicaragua and Honduras. The organization employs nearly 600 total staff worldwide and had budget of $20 million in 2011. With funding from more than 110 donors, including USAID, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, SDC, Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, CIDA, DFID, and the World Bank, iDE has implemented more than 275 projects worldwide.

Agriculture Development[edit]

iDE first point of entry to increase small-scale farmers’ productivity is affordable irrigation equipment. It offer a range of products, including pumps, drip systems, and water storage. We invest in the design and initial promotion of the technologies and engage the private sector to sustain the necessary supply chains. iDE also implements an integrated value chain development approach termed Prosperity Realized through Irrigation and Smallholder Markets (PRISM),[1] which focuses on supporting existing enterprises to supply and market appropriate farm inputs, provides technical and business advice for small producers, and improves smallholder farmers’ market access. iDE developed an innovative business model to provide high-quality agricultural inputs and technical advice to poor farmers through commission-based sales agents known as Farm Business Advisors (FBA). iDE provides support to FBAs through training, bulk purchasing power, credit access, market information, and promotion while ensuring standards for product and service quality are maintained. FBAs then analyze individual farms to identify opportunities and match them with the appropriate inputs. FBAs sell the inputs at a profit and provide technical advice during visits throughout the growing season.

Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH)[edit]

iDE also pioneered market-based approaches in the WASH sector that incorporate private-sector, NGOs and government stakeholders. Sanitation Marketing (SanMark) is highly effective way to rapidly and sustainably improve rural sanitation at scale by connecting consumers with products and services that they want and can afford. This approach avoids the use of direct subsidies for hardware or installation, instead creating demand for sanitation products and services by promoting them through innovative means that align with the goals and aspirations of the target market. SanMark also develops sustainable businesses to supply those products and services to low-income households in a manner that allows for the generation of profit along the supply chain while maintaining a price point appropriate for poor households. As a whole, iDE’s SanMark approach effectively generates both supply and demand for improved water and sanitation, thereby creating a functional market for sanitation products and services.


Treadle pumps[edit]

The treadle pump is a foot-powered water pump developed in the 1970s by Norwegian engineer Gunnar Barnes.[2] In the 1980s, iDE initiated a campaign to market the pumps to smallholder farmers. Over the course of 12 years, 1.5 million treadle pumps were purchased, increasing the purchaser's income by $150 million annually. The cost of the treadle pump scheme was $12 million, compared with conventional dam and canal systems which would have cost $1.5 billion to irrigate a similar area.[3] The treadle pump programme in India won an Ashden Award in 2006.[4]

Drip irrigation[edit]

Although drip irrigation is not a new technology, iDE has made major strides in breaking down the costs of irrigation systems to make them affordable to low-income farmers. Micro-irrigation has enormous potential, as it uses 30%-60% less water than traditional methods, reduces salinization, delivers water directly to the roots of crops, and increases yields by 5%-50%.[5]

Ceramic filters[edit]

iDE has also promoted the use of ceramic water filters in countries such as Cambodia. Ceramic water filters can significantly improve household water quality (up to 99.99% reduction in E. coli) and can be manufactured locally and sold for under US$10.[6]

Country Programs[edit]

iDE has country programs in 3 continents and 11 countries:



Latin America

Results and Awards[edit]

iDE has impacted more than 20 million people and catalyzed the commercial distribution of some 2.5 million irrigation technologies, which, on average, produce $150 of additional income annually. With value chain support (PRISM), poor rural households increase income by an average of $250 annually. FBAs earn, on average, $640 per year, and while their customers see 30-40% income gains in the first year. Over the last five years, iDE has facilitated the sale of 222,000 WASH technologies, benefiting over 1 million people, improving health and saving money previously spent on treatment. The added income from both interventions allows families to invest in nutrition, healthcare, education and additional business activities.

iDE has received a number of awards, including being named #30 in the Top 100 NGOs by the Global Journal in 2013.[7] iDE received the 2012 Dubai International Award for Best Practices (DIABP) for its sanitation marketing approach and the AGFUND International Prize for Pioneering Human Development Projects in 2009 for its PRISM approach. iDE Cambodia was the first recipient of the 2010 Nestle Prize in Creating Shared Value for its Farm Business Advisors program. The InterAmerican Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) through its Agricultural Innovation Network Project (Red SICTA) selected iDE for the best adaptive technology regarding climate change.


  1. ^ PRISM guidelines
  2. ^ Polak, Paul. Scientific American. September 2005. Page 84
  3. ^ Polak, Paul. Scientific American. September 2005. Page 88
  4. ^ iDE treadle pump wins Ashden Award
  5. ^ 2006 UNDP Human Development Report, page 197.
  6. ^ Water and Sanitation Program. "Use of Ceramic Water Filters in Cambodia." August 2007.
  7. ^ The Global Journal Top 100 NGOs 2013

External links[edit]