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.

At a Glance
Founded: 2001
Founder & Co-Chairman: Jordan Kassalow
Current President: Ella Gudwin
Economic Empowerment
Location of work: International, Africa, Asia, Latin America
VisionSpring
New York, NY
Affordable access to eyewear, everywhere
Meet Jordan Kassalow

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.

IMPACT

VisionSpring has sold eyeglasses to 6.9M customers, with more than 50% acquiring their first ever pair. Using hybrid business models that blend philanthropy with earned revenue, VisionSpring generates $43 in income earning potential at the household level for every $1 donated. To date, VisionSpring has unlocked $1.5B in economic impact.

In 2018, VisionSpring published the results of a randomized control trial in The Lancet Global Health. Conducted in the tea estates of Assam, India, the RCT demonstrated a 22% increase in productivity among tea pickers who acquired their first pair of reading glasses. Additional studies underway reveal commensurate increases in income for first-time wearers of reading glasses.

In 2019, VisionSpring was inducted into the Million Lives Club by the International Development Innovation Alliance as a Vanguard member and won the Prince Michael International Road Safety Award for Drive Safe India.

VisionSpring is on track to provide clear vision for 10M people by 2021.

  • RT @CASEatDuke: Successful #socent @VisionSpring knows their people are everything, and shares their journey to align talent with evolving…
  • RT @mfv_org: Join us on 2nd Feb for the 2023 Vision and Road Safety Conference 2.0 - co-organised by VisionSpring, Sightsavers India, Missi…
  • RT @SightsaversIN: Join us on 2nd February, 2023, for Vision and Road Safety Conference 2.0, as we deliberate on the importance of eye care…
  • Our India Board of Directors recently selected Narayanan Kumar, a long-standing Board member, as Board President. M… https://t.co/zfZakWnt4k
  • Join us on Feb 2 for the Vision and Road Safety Conference! Learn about solutions for creating accessible eyecare s… https://t.co/4pGJSFeF9g
  • RT @SkollFoundation: "Reading Glasses for Improved Livelihoods," a program by @VisionSpring in partnership with @BRACworld, trains #chws to…
  • Thi Loan Nguyen is an artist who came to our vision camp because her old reading glasses no longer worked -- remind… https://t.co/KD0jNL6ma6
  • RT @MPvikasmahatme: Attended and spoke at an interesting meeting on Reinventing CSR - Building Collaborative Action for A Clear Vision Ind…
  • RT @citizens_cf: Citizens Foundation #Assam Team lead by Mr. Jahirul Choudhary, met Mr. Anshu Taneja, Country Director, @VisionSpring , for…
  • RT @JRFIndia: They came to visit an eye-camp organized in collaboration with @JRFIndia in Manpura, Rajasthan and were amazed by the work b…
  • RT @EVENTFAQS: The 2023 commitment is part of a larger aspiration to reach 10 lakh low-income people in tea growing regions and establish A…
  • RT @INDIACSR: VisionSpring to Improve Vision for Assam Tea Workers and Artisans @VisionSpring #VisionSpring #Assam #CorporateSocialRespons…
  • RT @SSIReview: “I’ve found that my own leadership cycle spins, over and over again, from a burning passion to a sense of burnout and lost d…
  • RT @Reachprogram: We have partnered with @VisionSpring to deliver quality eye examinations, treatment, and affordable reading glasses to pe…
  • RT @roopak1966: Tea plucking is a demanding job that requires good hand-and-eye coordination, dexterity, accuracy, focus, and speed. It is…
  • Prioritizing the talent of our team has been key to VisionSpring's success. And the Stanford Social Innovation Revi… https://t.co/86X4v3nzgE
  • During Road Safety Week, we launched Drive Safe India 2.0, which will make India's roads safer by treating impaired… https://t.co/7S2LRtuOGp
  • Last week was Road Safety Week! As much as 59% of traffic accidents are linked to impaired vision -- Eyeglasses hel… https://t.co/Kr9lRWIGao
  • RT @eyecarebusiness: The @WHO has adopted @VisionSpring’s screening methodology in its new Training in Assistive Products program, which eq…
  • RT @NextBillion: How do you know when it’s time to shut down a philanthropic venture? Learn about the @VisionSpring PIPP ratio model: htt…