About Our CEO
Mikkel Vestergaard Frandsen is the CEO and owner of Vestergaard Frandsen, a European company focused on achieving the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals, specifically the prevention of infectious diseases including malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia, HIV/AIDS, and several of neglected tropical diseases. The company has made significant contributions in the fields of global water and food security, and climate change mitigation.
Working in tandem with UN agencies, government ministries, non-governmental and faith-based organizations, and academia, Vestergaard Frandsen has grown from a small family-owned business, founded in 1957, to a global social enterprise based in Switzerland, with 12 offices in ten countries.
In 1997 Mikkel assumed leadership of the company, which has evolved to become synonymous with social responsibility. Profits are reinvested into innovative technologies that help curb the spread of infectious diseases such as malaria, as well as generate employment in the developing countries where they are manufactured and distributed.
Mikkel’s personal interest in developing nations began at 19 years of ago when he moved to Africa and started a truck importing business in Lagos, Nigeria until he was forced to leave following a military coup. He has also lived and worked in Nairobi, Kenya and New Delhi, India. Mikkel returned to Denmark in 1993 and joined his family’s business, then a traditional textile production company. Witness to the devastating effects of poor public health in Africa and India, Mikkel recognized the urgent need for disease-control methods in developing countries and in 1997 the company’s clothing business was sold off so attention could focus solely on the humanitarian disease control textiles business.
Vestergaard Frandsen’s products include PermaNet® anti-malarial nets and LifeStraw® water filters, which have been honored for their revolutionary design and displayed at the Museum of Modern Art and at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum. LifeStraw® was named one of the best inventions by Time and one of the best innovations by Esquire. It also won the Saatchi & Saatchi Award for World Changing Ideas.
In September 2008 Mikkel conceptualized and funded the CarePack® campaign to prevent the spread of malaria, diarrheal disease and HIV in western Kenya. The campaign benefited nearly 50,000 people in just seven days. In May 2011 Mikkel funded and launched the LifeStraw® Carbon for Water program, through which 900,000 households in Western Kenya received LifeStraw Family water filters free of charge. This program uses the power of carbon financing to bring safe water to millions of people. For these efforts Mikkel was elected an elder of the Luhya tribe, an honor bestowed on those who have touched the lives of the Kenyans in an extraordinary manner. And in 2011 Mikkel received First magazine’s Dahrendorf Award for Social Enterprise.
In 2009 Mikkel was appointed an economic advisor to the Danish prime minister, and was selected by the World Economic Forum as a 2010 Young Global Leader. Mikkel was honored with the 2009 Social and Economic Innovation Award from The Economist, and the company received the 2010 Financial Times Just Means Social Innovation Award for Most Innovative Small For-Profit Company. In February of 2011 Mikkel won the Global Action Forum’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award and in March of 2011 Mikkel was named to the “Women Deliver 100” list of the most influential people contributing to the health of women and girls around the world.
He serves on the board of directors of the Roll Back Malaria partnership, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, and is a member of NASA’s Launch Council.
Mikkel holds an MBA from Henley Management College. He is 39 years old and lives in Lausanne, Switzerland.
- Every Woman, Every Child: Investing in Our Common Future. "New Business Models: Humanitarian Entrepreneurship" Chapter 11 [pdf]
- Doesn't Everyone Deserve Clean Water? [pdf]
Mikkel Vestergaard Frandsen gives keynote at Lung Conference 2011 about how private sector scale-up can aid in achieving ambitious public health goals in the developing world. Watch speech