Model & Strategy
In the developing world, 703 million people suffer from vision impairment that affects their ability to work and learn. VisionSpring is an innovative social enterprise dedicated to reducing poverty and creating opportunity in the world’s poorest communities through the sale of affordable eyeglasses. By training local villagers to conduct outreach and vision screenings and to sell high-quality, low-cost eyeglasses, VisionSpring provides a cost-effective, high impact intervention that instantly improves the productivity and quality of life for the under-privileged in the developing world.
Beneficiaries are both the clients, whose restored vision enables them to work and live more ably, and the local, trained VisionSpring Entrepreneurs, whose services and goods provide a sustainable and socially beneficial livelihood. VisionSpring is dedicated to creating distribution channels for low-cost eyeglasses to ensure that all people have equitable access to the eye care products they need to live a full, productive life.
Jordan Kassalow is the Founder and Co-Chairman of VisionSpring. Jordan also founded Scojo New York and the Global Health Policy Program at the Council on Foreign Relations. Prior to his position at the Council, he served as Director of the River Blindness Division at Helen Keller International. Jordan is a Skoll Fellow, an Ashoka Fellow, and a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute. He was a 2012 Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur and made the list of Forbes magazine’s Impact 30. Jordan is the inaugural winner of the John P. McNulty Prize, the 2006 winner of BYU’s Innovator Award and received Duke University’s Social Innovation Award on behalf of VisionSpring. VisionSpring is also a three-time winner of Fast Company’s Social Capitalist Award. Jordan earned a Doctorate of Optometry from the New England College of Optometry and a Fellowship in Preventive Ophthalmology and Masters in Public Health from Johns Hopkins. Jordan continues to see patients part time at the optometric practice of Drs. Farkas, Kassalow and Resnick.
Ella Gudwin, current president, heads up global operations to accelerate the uptake of eyeglasses in emerging and frontier markets for consumers who earn less than $4 a day. Under her leadership, VisionSpring is working to sell 10 million pairs of radically affordable eyeglasses by 2020, creating $2.16 billion in economic impact at the household level.
VisionSpring has sold a cumulative 5.4M pairs of eyeglasses to customers living on less than $4 a day since its inception. As a result, $1B dollars in income potential was created at the household level.
In 2018, VisionSpring completed an RCT conducted on a tea estate in Assam India. The study found that reading glasses increased productivity by 22% on average and up to 32% among workers over the age of 50.
In 2015, consulting firm Frost & Sullivan awarded VisionSpring the Emerging Market Innovation for best practices in eye care delivery. Dr. Salima Bhatia, who proposed VisionSpring’s model for bringing glasses to millions in rural India, was recognized as the winner of the “Out of Box Challenge” by India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
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