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What if products and strategies for the developing world were designed just for the people who would use them? It’s a free-market concept infrequently applied to nonprofit causes, but it has been the foundation of PATH’s approach to global health for nearly 30 years. And it’s one of several reasons why Fast Company magazine consistently selects us as one of the world’s top social entrepreneurs.

For the third year in a row, Fast Company, in partnership with the global consulting firm Monitor Group, has named PATH one of the top 25 “social capitalists” that are changing the world. Social capitalists are organizations that, like PATH, not only address social problems, but also seek to identify and change the systems or ideas that create the problem, often by applying business practices. Fast Company selected this year’s top social capitalists from an original pool of 240 nonprofits nominated by funders, academics, and other experts. The organizations were then evaluated on impact, entrepreneurial innovation, aspiration, and sustainability.

PATH receives high marks in each of these areas—in part because of unique partnerships with the private sector. We enlist businesses in our cause whenever and however we can. We even publish a set of principles addressing ethical issues to guide these collaborations.

For example, developing countries needed ways to get vaccine to remote villages, so PATH invented the Uniject™ device. It is little more than a needle attached to a tiny plastic bubble, but it is so simple that village health workers with minimal training can use it. The needle has a one-way valve that prevents reuse—and transmission of infection like HIV.

After developing the device, we licensed the rights to Uniject to BD, one of the world’s largest syringe manufacturers. In return, we secured a commitment from them to produce large quantities of the device and make it available to public-sector purchasers, such as UNICEF, at affordable prices. Six different medications are now available in the Uniject, and millions of the devices are being distributed and used around the world to prevent diseases and save lives.

We are also working with an array of funders and biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies to support the development of vaccines for some of the world’s most devastating but neglected diseases, such as malaria and meningitis. Some of these promising vaccine candidates had been shelved because market forces alone weren’t enough to support continued work on them. Our participation means that promising solutions get a chance—sometimes even a second chance—and so do communities that are caught up in a cycle of poverty and disease.

With today’s advances in medical and social sciences, the solutions to global health problems are at hand. PATH takes full advantage of resources available in both the public and private sectors to make sure today’s solutions benefit people the world over, no matter where they live.

We’re thrilled to be honored as a social capitalist for this work. PATH will be featured in Fast Company’s January 2006 issue!

Uniject is a trademark of BD.