Vestergaard is a family owned global company innovating game-changing solutions that contribute to a healthier, more sustainable planet; dedicated to improving the health of vulnerable people, especially those who live in developing countries. It was founded in 1957 by Kaj Vestergaard Frandsen, a former farmer and the grandfather of the current CEO, Mikkel Vestergaard Frandsen, as a uniform maker. Kaj’s son Torben took over the company in 1970. The company evolved into a social enterprise making products for humanitarian aid in the 1990s. In 1997 Torben and Mikkel agreed to split the company stopped producing uniforms. It is now best known for inventing the LifeStraw water filter and the PermaNet mosquito net.
The LifeStraw® water filters convert contaminated water into clean, safe drinking water. They are a vital tool for some of the 780 million people who don’t have ready access to safe drinking water. It is an ‘end of pipe solution’ that actually gets the work done for the purpose it was created.
Mikkel Vestergaard is known internationally as a visionary leader who is willing to challenge the status quo and take risks when necessary to produce innovative solutions. He has structured the company around a humanitarian entrepreneurship business model where doing good is good business. This approach supports achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Unlike most companies that sell directly to end users, most recipients of Vestergaard’s humanitarian products don’t have money to pay for them. Instead, they’re bought, in large quantities, by governments, aid agencies, NGOs, faith-based groups and the private sector. These valued partners then work with Vestergaard to distribute the company’s life-saving products to disadvantaged people around the world.
Mikkel had worked in Lagos, Nigeria from the age of 19 running a truck company, which ignited his passion for Africa. In 1993, he left Nigeria following a military coup and returned to Denmark to work with his father in the family business (Vestergard Frandsen). According to Adweek.com, he spent a year importing auto parts and used clothing from Denmark to Lagos, Nigeria. Mikkel stated in Adweek that he was flying home and picking up secondhand clothes and then flying back and selling them off before they went through customs so he didn’t have to deal with Nigerian authorities, and the client would then have them cleared.
For his contributions to humanitarian efforts, Mikkel has been honored with the 2009 Social and Economic Innovation Award from The Economist, was elected to the “Women Deliver 100” list of the most influential people contributing to the health of women and girls around the world, was celebrated at the 2011 Danish Hero Gala in Copenhagen, and named by Success magazine in 2014 as one of “9 Visionaries Shaping the Future.” Mikkel lives in Lausanne, Switzerland where Vestergaard is headquartered.
More about Vestergaard can be found HERE.
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