Episode 2: interview with Jordan Kassalow, the founder of VisionSpring, and co-founder EYElliance

Jordan Kassalow is the founder of VisionSpring, an organisation that works to provide affordable access to eyewear, everywhere, and eliminate poor vision, due to the lack of eyeglasses-- the largest disability in the world.

VisionSpring’s initial focus was on distributing ready-made, non-prescription reading glasses via a network of Vision Entrepreneurs… an on-the-ground sales team, later evolving a broader approach using sales through distribution partners, and an emerging “full service” model, providing affordable, high-quality prescription glasses

By Autumn 2019, VisionSpring had reached 7 million people with eyeglasses and generated over $1.2 billion of economic impact for its customers.

Notwithstanding VisionSpring’s success, Jordan has been looking for ways to increase the scale of impact on this problem, for a more systems-based approach, and in 2016, he co-founded EYElliance, a system change, multi-sector alliance of over 60 organizations working together to eliminate poor vision due to the lack of eyeglasses. 

Om Podcasten

In 2020 Ashoka’s Globalizer launched a new podcast series on systems change with the first 6-episode season. That season was produced in partnership between Fergal Byrne, the host of the well-known Inspiring Social Entrepreneurs podcast, and Odin Muehlenbein, partner at Ashoka Germany and co-lead of the Systems Unit at Ashoka Globalizer. The first season explores how experienced social entrepreneurs - Jordan Kassalow, Jeroo Billimoria, Michael Sani, Kendis Peris - and Silvia Bastante, as a supporter to social entrepreneurs at Co-Impact, use systems change approaches in their work. Complement listening to the first season with reading the “Systemic and Empowering” report featuring five case studies of social entrepreneurs working to improve systems - https://lac.ashoka.org/story/systemic-and-empowering. In early 2021, we continue to explore the topic of systems change and are launching the second mini-season with 4 episodes. This time we will explore how social entrepreneurs can effectively work with governments to improve systems together. This season is co-hosted by Sascha Haselmayer, a seasoned social entrepreneur and an Ashoka Fellow who has worked with 135 municipal governments across the world to improve the provision of public services, and Olga Shirobokova, co-lead of the Systems Unit at Ashoka Globalizer. The 2nd podcast season complements the free online course for social entrepreneurs on Working With Government that Ashoka launched in fall 2020: www.ashoka.org/working-with-government . Please listen to the podcast on the platform of your choice and leave an honest review. Share it with fellow changemakers and funders and continue the conversation using #systemschange and @ashoka. We can all have more impact together if we work systemically.