Mikkel Vestergaard Frandsen hands over reins as CEO of Vestergaard, leaving a legacy of impact that has protected hundreds of millions of people from malaria, waterborne disease and food scarcity
LAUSANNE, Switzerland, Jan. 30, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Mikkel Vestergaard Frandsen is to transition to a new role pursuing further opportunities in humanitarian entrepreneurship, having spent 27 years at Vestergaard and 22 years as CEO.
Mikkel will focus on his work as CEO of Sceye, a material science company building stratospheric airships. In a continuation of the humanitarian work that has defined Mikkel’s career, Sceye’s potential applications include monitoring the effects of climate change, tracking illegal fishing and human trafficking, and providing connectivity to off-grid communities.
Mikkel will continue to shape the future of Vestergaard through his role on the board of directors. Alison Hill will step up from managing director to become CEO of LifeStraw, which becomes a separate business concern. The PermaNet and ZeroFly brands will remain under Vestergaard, which welcomes Michael Joos as CEO. Mikkel remains CEO of the parent company Vestergaard Holding.
Under Mikkel, Vestergaard’s three major brands have collectively contributed to disease prevention for more than one billion of the world’s most vulnerable people.
- PermaNet: When Vestergaard launched and scaled the first long-lasting insecticidal net in early 2000, more than one million people — mainly children —were dying from the disease every year. The introduction of new drugs and rapid diagnostics have helped reduce this figure to fewer than 500,000 today, and long-lasting insecticide-treated nets (LLIN) — pioneered by Vestergaard — have been credited as the main contributor to the 50% reduction in Malaria from 2000-2015 [ Nature Microbiology ]. Vestergaard is the largest producer of LLINs, having made and distributed nearly one billion nets.
- LifeStraw: Two decades ago, Vestergaard partnered with the Carter Center to join the effort to eradicate Guinea worm. More than 38 million LifeStraw drinking water filters have so far been distributed, and from 3.5 million cases of Guinea worm in the mid-1980s [ Carter Center ] only 28 were reported in 2018 [ WHO ]. Having been wiped out in Asia and the Middle East [ Carter Center ], Guinea worm could become only the second disease in history to be wiped out since smallpox was eradicated nearly 50 years ago. It could also become the first disease to be eradicated without the use of a vaccine.
- ZeroFly: The innovative insecticide-treated food storage bags have enabled 550,000 tons of grain to be stored safely from pests, improving food security and protecting valuable harvests. Vestergaard’s insecticide treated fabric has also been used by farmers as screens to protect their animals from flies and, in combination with the deployment of more than one million tsetse fly traps, has helped reduce African sleeping sickness, which is spread by the tsetse fly.
“I am immensely proud of the accomplishments of the team at Vestergaard,” says Mikkel Vestergaard Frandsen. “This is a team driven by the desire to make positive changes in the world, and one that has worked hard to achieve this. Our mission, vision and values are embedded throughout the company, which is why each business unit is able to lead the way in creating meaningful humanitarian impact.”
“I am pleased to welcome the next generation of day-to-day leadership, and Alison Hill and Michael Joos are talented leaders who will bring the intelligence, drive and passion needed to grow our successful brands into the future. I am excited to watch LifeStraw, PermaNet, and ZeroFly continue to move the world towards disease eradication, and better health and nutrition. And I’m also excited to be taking the helm of an innovative tech company that has the potential to add to huge positive humanitarian and environmental impact around the world.”
When Mikkel began working with the family company in the early 1990s, Vestergaard was a small sewing operation in Denmark. Today, under Mikkel’s leadership, the company has grown to be one of the most successful and impactful private humanitarian companies in the world. Vestergaard believes that humanitarian impact is not a cost to the company, but a driver of revenues, and one that can be measured both in the bottom line and in its work setting a gold standard as a positive impact company.
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