Jordan Kassalow

Ashoka Fellow
United States,
Fellow Since 2010

Citation

This profile was prepared when Jordan Kassalow was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2010.
The New Idea
An optometrist and public health entrepreneur, Jordan has spent much of his career showing the link between vision and economic productivity at the base of the pyramid. He introduced improved care for river blindness, and founded the Global Health Policy Council at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Through VisionSpring, the not-for-profit organization he co-founded as Scojo in 2003, Jordan is creating new markets and delivering affordable glasses and other vision services and products to the world’s poor. He does this by arranging low-cost manufacture of sought-after goods; distributing these through direct sales and partner organizations; and signaling a new market opportunity to industry players that currently pursue a high-margin, low-volume approach to sales in emerging markets. Jordan and his team have supplied over 400,000 pairs of ready-made glasses, contributing health and increased wage-earning capabilities to this underserved group and surfacing a demonstration model for the industry. Now he and his colleagues are piloting a “full service” approach that builds out a diversified product range, and approaches profitability through the introduction of some higher-margin products (i.e. prescription glasses) that are still affordable to customers earning as little as $4/day. The global system he has engineered links production in East Asia with consumers and VisionSpring teams in Central America, India, Bangladesh, South Africa, and Indonesia.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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