Mikkel Vestergaard Frandsen, CEO of Vestergaard Frandsen and one of the Women Deliver 100, gave the keynote speech at The Economist’s conference, The Sustainable Business Summit, where he spoke about the significance of social responsibility. To begin his speech, he paints a bleak picture:
“Imagine you are 10 years old. You are a girl. You’re walking 3 miles under a 110 degree blazing hot sun. You are fetching water. You do this every day, spending time bringing water home to your family; time you could’ve spent going to school. The water you find may look clear, but it is fact swarming with bacteria. Many of your neighbors are now suffering from chronic diarrhea... But his is your only water source, so you drink it anyway.”
Vestergaard Frandsen has built a successful business model where their products and platforms save millions of lives and can greatly improve economies of developing countries. As Frandsen says in his speech, “…there’s neither controversy, nor conflict, between doing business and doing good.” One of their lifesaving products, the LifeStraw, allows local communities to filter unclean water into drinkable, safe, clean water. Moving forward, Frandsen announced that starting April 26th, 2011, the company will go door to door to 1 million households in the Western Kenya Province and install 1 million water filters. This project will benefit 4.5 million people, and it will be linked and registered with the carbon market so Vestergaard Frandsen can sell carbon credits. By giving people an alternative to boiling water in order to purify it, it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions in countries where trees are scarce.
In his speech, Frandsen continued to stress the importance of social responsibility as a core tenet of their business model. He says, “Social responsibility, in an age of globalization, is about sustainability, accountability, and opportunity.”
In honor of this year’s World Water Day (March 22, 2011), Vestergaard Frandsen donated 1,000 LifeStraw water filters to a poor community in the Andes in Peru. Watch the video to see how LifeStraws are giving children of Peru safe water:
Vestergaard Frandsen is a corporate partner of Women Deliver.