An interesting article in The New York Times about a company supplying good to aid organisations. Does "Making money while doing good" make you feel good? You bet! Can one justify making "Money while saving lives"? You bet! Is there a commercial market for humanitarian supplies? You bet! Is it right to "Make money while saving lives? Guess it depends who you ask the question to.
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. (..)
The company’s main business was facing competition from Asia, and both he and his father found relief work more interesting. Exporting used clothes for distribution in refugee camps was profitable. And there was a market in tsetse fly traps; the flies, which transmit sleeping sickness, are drawn to certain wavelengths of blue light, so the company had to make fabric of the right shade that did not fade in sunlight and did not weaken when permeated with insecticide. (Full)
Picture courtesy New York Times