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VisionSpring is a social enterprise that empowers entrepreneurs in the developing world to sell affordable eyeglasses. For tailors, weavers, farmers, and others throughout Latin America, Asia and Africa who need to see up-close for their livelihoods, the loss of near vision means the loss of their ability to work and support a family. Over 400 million people living in poverty whose productivity, self-reliance and dignity hinge on this simple tool lack access to it. VisionSpring empowers entrepreneurs with its pioneering “Business in a Bag” to provide glasses in their communities and also empowers partner organizations to add this model into their existing operations, allowing VisionSpring to rapidly expand its reach throughout the world.
VisionSpring reduces poverty and generates opportunity in the developing world through the sale of affordable eyeglasses.
VisionSpring (formerly Scojo Foundation) was founded in 2001 by Dr. Jordan Kassalow, a practicing optometrist who has dedicated his life to improving vision and economic opportunity in the developing world. Over his career, Jordan realized that a large number of the patients he treated in the developing world— over 40% — simply needed a pair of non-prescription eyeglasses, the kind found in drugstores all over the US. Yet the people he met were losing their jobs and their livelihoods simply because this affordable, mass-produced product was not available in their area. Second, he noticed that, above all, people needed jobs. Without income, they could not access critical goods and services, such as water, health care, and education. Jordan questioned whether Western eye doctors were providing a service that could easily be provided by the community members themselves if they were given the proper tools and skills. Thus, the idea for VisionSpring was born.
Operating in twelve countries worldwide, VisionSpring believes that low-income people should have access to clear vision and economic opportunity. Without the ability to see clearly, individuals whose lives depend on good vision lose the ability to be productive members of society while maintaining a good quality of life. Tailors can no longer thread a needle. Farmers cannot differntiate types of seeds. Goldsmiths can no longer see tiny stones to be set in jewelry. People cannot read their religious texts or newspapers.
VisionSpring presents an innovative private sector approach to poverty alleviation by utilizing a micro-franchising strategy for expansion, replication, and sustainability. Our "Business in a Bag" enables us to create a blueprint for success for each entrepreneur we support. Each Vision Entrepreneurs carries all the tools necessary to succeed in a backpack. These tools include: reading glasses, sunglasses, eye drops, cases, cords, uniform, marketing materials, data collection forms, certification badges, among other items.
Through providing eyeglasses, VisionSpring increases the productive life of those whose livelihoods depend on up-close vision, such as farmers, weavers, tailors, and mechanics, while raising the standard of living for entrepreneurs and their families.
Vision Entrepreneurs earn a profit of $1-5 for each pair of glasses sold. This profit enables them to re-invest in education, health, and housing for their families. As of July 2008, VisionSpring has sold over 147,000 pairs of eye glasses and provides sustainable jobs to over 850 Vision Entrepreneurs.
Over the next five years, VisionSpring plans to sell 646,000 additional pairs of eyeglasses and empower 5,000 people to earn a living as Vision Entrepreneurs, resulting in more than $153 million in social benefit to the poor.
Dr. Jordan Kassalow currently serves as Chairman of VisionSpring (formerly Scojo Foundation), providing leadership and expertise to its global operations. He is a co-founder of both VisionSpring and Scojo New York, and is also the founder of the Global Health Policy Program at the Council on Foreign Relations, where he served as an Adjunct Senior Fellow from 1999-2004. Prior to his position at the Council, he served as Director of the Onchocerciasis Division at Helen Keller International. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for Lighthouse International and on the Medical Advisory Board of Helen Keller International. The recipient of numerous awards, including the Social Innovator of the Year Award from BYU’s Marriott School of Management, The Aspen Institute’s Henry Crown Fellowship, and a Draper Richards Foundation Fellowship, Dr. Kassalow received his Doctorate of Optometry from the New England College of Optometry and completed his Fellowship in Preventive Ophthalmology and his Masters in Public Health from Johns Hopkins.
Honorary Board Members:
Madeline Albright, 64th United States Secretary of State
Leslie H. Gelb, President Emeritus, Council On Foreign Relations
William Mayer, Chairman, Aspen Institute
Senator George J. Mitchell, Chairman, DLA Piper
Board of Directors:
David Bornstein, Author
Anne Marie Burgoyne, Director, Draper Richards Foundation
J. David Chute, Founder and President, i2C Ventures, LLC
Maybeth Dee, Founder, Luko Ltd.
Reade Fahs, CEO and President, National Vision, Inc.
Charles de Gunzburg, Chairman, First Spring Corp.
Dr. Jordan Kassalow, Chairman, VisionSpring
Paul Lambert, Partner, McLaughlin & Stern, LLP.
Jonathan R. Lance, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, Lance Partners LLC.
Jonathan M. Lewis, Managing Member, Folio Partners LLC
India, Bangladesh, El Salvador, Guatemala, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Paraguay, Tanzania, United Republic of, Zambia
322 8th Avenue /Suite 12A-02
New York, NY 10001
Phone: (212) 375-2599
A Gift Card
Dress For Success
With a gift of $5 you will provide a Vision Entrepreneur with the professional items they need to do their job and instill faith in their customers. Your generous gift will supply a Vision Entrepreneur with items they need, such as uniforms, ID, and professional eye charts. Through the familiar faces of local Vision Entrepreneurs, VisionSpring glasses reach the people who need them most, creating...
Restore Eye Sight
One Pair of Glasses
A donation of $10 will restore vision and hope to one person by providing them affordable reading glasses.
Provide Eye Care
One village screening
Your gift of $250 will enable two Vision Entrepreneurs to conduct a vision screening camp by supplying marketing materials, reading glasses for the village, and transportation to the village.
Expand Eye Care
A gift of $100 will provide a Vision Entrepreneur with a “Business in a Bag” allowing them to start a VisionSpring micro-franchise. This includes 30 pairs of brand-new reading glasses, 10 pairs of sunglasses, eye drops, cases, cords, a uniform, marketing materials, and a bag in which to organize and carry all of these items.
Aid Vision Programs
Due to the lack of awareness about the existence of low cost reading glasses among people in the developing world, our Vision Entrepreneurs find it necessary to launch comprehensive marketing campaigns which educate the public about eye health, as well as showing off their different products. This gift, of $50, will enable a Vision Entrepreneur to pay for these important eye care campaigns, increasing the...