There are plenty of charitable foundations and public agencies devoted to helping the world's poor, many with instantly recognizable names like Unicef or the Gates Foundation. But private companies with that as their sole focus are rare. Even the best-known is not remotely a household name: Vestergaard-Frandsen.
Its products are in use in refugee camps and disaster areas all over the third world: PermaNet, a mosquito net impregnated with insecticide; ZeroFly, a tent tarp that kills flies; and the LifeStraw, a filter worn around the neck that makes filthy water safe to drink. "Vestergaard is just different from other companies we work with," said Kevin Starace, malaria adviser for the United Nations Foundation. "They think of the end user as a consumer rather than as a patient or a victim."
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