Skoll Foundation


Proximity Designs’ Founders Share Their Secrets of Success on Fast Company Co.Exist

February 13, 2013 by

Ever wondered how to design products for people making $2 a day?

That’s the title of this new Q and A with our 2012 awardees, Proximity Designs.

They discuss the success of their foot-treadle pump, their new line of renewable energy products, Cyclone Nargis disaster relief, and their collaborative process as a husband and wife team.  Here’s an excerpt:

“Q: Who inspires you the most with their generosity?

A: Debbie and I met in Mississippi. Fresh out of college in the late ‘70s, we each decided to move to Jackson to work with a social entrepreneur named John Perkins. John was a successful businessman who moved back to his native Mississippi. He started social ventures to tackle poverty in America’s poorest state. Our seven years in Mississippi was a shaping experience as 20-year-olds. John taught us something that has become an enduring theme in our lives. He said if you want to understand more clearly the real problems facing poor people, you have to relocate and be close to them, so you can begin to look for real solutions. You need deep knowledge and empathy if you want to be any good at solving complex problems.”

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