Skoll Foundation


Population and Community Development Association

Skoll Awardee(s): Mechai Viravaidya
Award Year: 2008
Issue Area(s) Addressed: Education, Health

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“PDA’s mission is to eradicate poverty by tackling the root cause, not the consequence, of poverty. The traditional welfare approach has seldom succeeded, for it has only addressed the consequence of poverty. PDA believes the only road out of poverty is through business by moving from aid to trade.”

 Sub-Issues: Early Childhood to Primary Education; Health Delivery; Secondary Education

Welfare and assistance to poor communities is doomed to failure unless it engages the communities themselves in developing sustainable livelihoods.

The Skoll Awardee: As a young economist working for the government, Mechai Viravaidya saw that rapid population growth in rural Thailand was compounding the problems of poverty. He launched the Population and Community Development Association (PDA) in 1974 to try a radical approach: a campaign for family planning and HIV/AIDS education that brought conversations about condoms out into the open and added humor, achieving for himself a nickname, “Condom King of Thailand.” The population growth rate fell from 3.2 percent in 1974 to 0.5 percent in 2005. Mechai considered this important but returned to the core problem of poverty with PDA’s Village Development Partnership (VDP) model, a serious endeavor to eradicate poverty by partnering a rural village with a sponsoring company or organization. It addresses development in five key areas: community empowerment, income generation, education, environmental promotion, and health.

Impact since joining the portfolio in 2008:

  • The VDP project currently benefits more than 25,000 rural villagers throughout Thailand with 3,000 members in 43 Village Development Banks who have utilized the equivalent of US$ 700,000 in microcredit loans over the past three years.
  • PDA manages the Lamplaimat-Pattana primary and secondary schools, an innovative education model for the rural poor.
  • PDA social enterprises include the popular restaurant chain Cabbages and Condoms and the Business for Rural Education and Development Co. (BREAD) which sells rice grown around the schools to a nationwide market.



© 2015 Skoll Foundation.