Affectionately known in Thailand as “Mr. Condom,” Mechai Viravaidya is the founder and chair of the Population and Community Development Association (PDA). He’s a widely acclaimed leader in the fields of public health, education and community development. Since 1974, Mr. Mechai has initiated community-based family planning services, innovative poverty reduction and rural education programs, large-scale rural development and environmental programs, as well as groundbreaking HIV/AIDS prevention activities throughout Southeast Asia.
To ensure financial sustainability for PDA, 16 for-profit companies have been established that are affiliated with PDA and are mandated to put funds towards the non-profit organization. Companies and businesses include the popular Cabbages and Condoms Restaurant chain, the Birds & Bees Resort in Pattaya and a new Cabbages and Condoms Cafe.
For his efforts in various development endeavors, Mechai Viravaidya has been acclaimed with numerous awards, recognition, and honorary doctoral degrees as well as the United Nations Gold Peace Medal (1981), the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service (1994), one of Asiaweek’s “20 Great Asians” (1995), the United Nations Population Award (1997), and one of TIME Magazine’s “Asian Heroes” (2006). Mechai and PDA have recently been the recipient of the Bill and Melinda Gates Award for Global Health in 2007, the Skoll Awardees for Social Entrepreneurship in 2008, and the Prince Mahidol Award for Public Health in 2009.