Chuck Slaughter, founder of clothing company TravelSmith, has a secret he doesn’t often share: He’s an Avon lady. But he only enlisted to better research the cosmetics giant, he explains, having had a “eureka” moment. If children in developing countries are dying because their parents can’t find or afford the requisite drugs, then why not deliver low-priced drugs to their doorsteps using an Avon-style direct sales technique?

In 2004 Slaughter had been hired to turn around the struggling Child...

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