Leading the social enterprise that he’s grown 10,000%, Mikkel Vestergaard Frandsen manufactures public health tools for people in developing countries. He is CEO and owner of Vestergaard, a health company that serves the world’s vulnerable populations.
Vestergaard’s PermaNet mosquito nets save thousands of lives each year from Malaria. ZeroFly is designed to improve food security in impoverished nations by protecting livestock and crops from pests and infestations. Under the LifeStraw Carbon for Water program, 900,000 battery-free LifeStraw water filters have been distributed in Kenya through funding provided by carbon offsets. The LifeStraw water filter was named “One of Ten Things that Will Change the Way we Live” by Forbes. Every product combines hi-tech science with simplicity of use.
It all started the year 19-year-old Mikkel Vestergaard Frandsen quit backpacking to start an auto import business in Lagos, and developed a passion for Africa. In 1993, when he joined the Danish uniform manufacturer founded by his grandfather in 1957, his father Torben had already been making blankets for humanitarian relief for years out of Swedish army surplus fabric. They tried leading separate operations under co-ownership, but when Mikkel Vestergaard Frandsen bought out his father in 1998, he shut down uniform manufacturing to focus on the social mission of the enterprise. By 1998 he was supplying the Carter Center, which uses the LifeStraw water filter for the eradication of the Guinea Worm, the first disease to be eradicated without the use of vaccine.
Today, after selling close to 1 billion PermaNets, winning a design award at MOMA for LifeStraw and many humanitarian awards, advising the prime minister of his native Denmark, and earning a reputation as an “audacious thinker” on boards like Roll Back Malaria, the pioneer of life-saving textiles wants to invent one new product every year.