Skoll Foundation

 

VisionSpring

Skoll Entrepreneur(s): Jordan Kassalow
Award Year: 2009
Focus Area(s) Addressed: Healthcare Access and Treatment

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Dr. Jordan Kassalow, co-founder and chairman of VisionSpring, has more than 20 years of experience providing eye care to the world’s poor. Throughout his many volunteer trips, he discerned that by taking the same amount of time, effort and money required to fly American eye doctors to Latin America, and instead, putting those resources into training local women to provide glasses, he would be creating permanent distribution networks to serve local needs after the volunteers were gone. VisionSpring put this idea into practice. The market opportunity: 703 million could have their vision restored with a pair of glasses. 90 percent of those living with uncorrected vision are in the developing world. This results in an annual loss of $202 billion to the global economy.

IMPACT AS OF NOV. 2014:

  • VisionSpring has sold about 2 million glasses since inception and has doubled its sales each year. They have conducted vision screenings for more than 5 million people.
  • Each pair of glasses sold can increase  productivity by 35 percent for the wearer, generating an estimated $42 million in increased economic growth throughout the developing world.
  • VisionSpring has created $269 million in economic impact.
  • They have trained an army of sales agents, 20,000 strong.
  • In 2013 alone, they reached 500,000 customers.
  • VisionSpring operates five optical stores in El Salvador, 12 mobile optical stores in India, and delivers glasses to the BoP in 18 developing countries through its Global Partnerships channel.
  • In partnership with BRAC, VisionSpring has large-scale expansion project throughout Bangladesh. This project provides income and business training to over 75,000 female community health volunteers and will generate over $600 million in economic impact in one of the world’s poorest countries. So far, 20,000 community health workers have been trained to sell reading glasses.

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