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An Optometrist's Third World Initiative

Discussion in 'General Topics' started by Paul Farkas, Mar 19, 2009.

  1. Paul Farkas

    Paul Farkas Administrator

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    Jordan Kassalow,OD,MPH is making a difference. He is the co- founder and guiding light of VisionSpring...www.visionspring.org.

    For more see this report...


    "Skoll Awards Announcement


    MARCH 19, 2009

    VisionSpring Wins Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship

    New York, NY, March 19, 2009 --

    The Skoll Foundation recently announced that VisionSpring is one of seven organizations to receive a three-year grant of $765,000 and join the growing global network of Skoll social entrepreneurs who are tackling the world's most critical social and economic challenges. The Skoll Foundation was created in 1999 by eBay's first president, Jeff Skoll, to promote his vision of a more peaceful and prosperous world. The Skoll Awards program provides social entrepreneurs who have already achieved significant impact with unrestricted funding to further extend their reach.

    “We are deeply honored to join the group of 72 remarkable Skoll social entrepreneurs who are making widespread change tackling the world’s most critical social and environmental problems,” said Dr. Jordan Kassalow, Chairman and Co-Founder of VisionSpring. “This tremendous vote of confidence from the Skoll Foundation inspires us at VisionSpring to approach our work with ever more dedication and fervor to truly solving the global failure for affordable eyeglasses across the developing world.”

    “Today’s difficult economic environment makes it all the more important to identify organizations that are tackling tough issues and delivering real and sustainable results. Unrestricted funding is particularly valuable against the current economic backdrop, since it provides these entrepreneurs with the flexibility they need to adapt to such difficult challenges,” said Sally Osberg, President and CEO of the Skoll Foundation. “The high quality of applicants this year is further evidence that the model of social entrepreneurship is being adopted by innovators worldwide. We welcome the addition of these impressive leaders and their organizations to the Skoll portfolio and look forward to supporting the next step in their growth.”

    Dr. Jordan Kassalow will receive the award on behalf of VisionSpring on March 26 at the sixth annual Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship at the University of Oxford in England. The Skoll Awards will be presented by Skoll Foundation Chairman Jeff Skoll, Skoll Foundation President and CEO Sally Osberg and special guest, chairman of the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change, Dr. Rajendra K. Pachauri. The Skoll World Forum convenes a global community of outstanding practitioners and thought leaders in social entrepreneurship to set the future agenda for visionaries who want to transform society.

    ABOUT VISIONSPRING

    VisionSpring is a non-profit social enterprise that empowers local individuals to become self-sustaining entrepreneurs by selling affordable eyeglasses to the millions of people in the developing world who need them. For tailors, weavers, artisans, and others throughout the developing world who need to see up-close for their livelihoods, the loss of their near vision means the loss of their ability to work and support a family. Yet, more than 400 million of the world’s poorest people do not have access to affordable eyeglasses, a product long available in every drugstore in the United States. Vision Spring’s successful “Business in a Bag” model provides not only the delivery of inexpensive, yet life-transforming eyeglasses, but also a promising entrepreneurial opportunity that helps to lift people out of poverty.
    For more information, visit www.visionspring.org

    ABOUT THE SKOLL FOUNDATION

    The Skoll Foundation was created in 1999 by eBay's first president, Jeff Skoll, to promote his vision of a more peaceful and prosperous world. Today the Skoll Foundation advances systemic change to benefit communities around the world by investing in, connecting and celebrating social entrepreneurs - individuals dedicated to innovative, bottom-up solutions that transform unequal and unjust social, environmental and economic systems.

    The Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship is the foundation's flagship program. There are currently 59 organizations represented by 72 remarkable social entrepreneurs in the program, working individually and together across regions, countries and continents to deliver solutions to the world’s most challenging economic and social problems.

    The Skoll Foundation connects social entrepreneurs and other partners in the field via an online community at www.socialedge.org, and through the annual Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship. The foundation also celebrates social entrepreneurs by telling their stories through partnerships with organizations like the PBS Foundation and the Sundance Institute, with the goal of promoting large-scale public awareness of social entrepreneurship."


    (Editor's note: In the interest of fill disclosure Dr Jordan Kassalow is a partner in my former practice www.eyewise.com)
     
  2. Paul Farkas

    Paul Farkas Administrator

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    Helping the world community while reaching opinion molders...

    From VisionSpring's Newsletter...


    "June 2009

    Progress on the Ground: VisionSpring Scales Up In Bangladesh and Launches in South Africa

    In VisionSpring's first country-wide scale-up, we will partner with BRAC to train more than 70,000 health volunteers in Bangladesh to sell eye glasses. Together, VisionSpring and BRAC will provide villagers throughout the country with affordable glasses for the first time, generating more than a billion dollars in economic impact for the citizens of Bangladesh. VisionSpring is also thrilled to announce that our first South African pilot - a partnership with micro-finance non-profit WBD - will officially launching this July.


    World Health Organization Champions Glasses as Low-Cost Intervention

    The World Health Organization recently published a research paper touting the "huge economic gains" that could come from providing glasses to the developing world. The research demonstrates that productivity loss due to visual impairment is many times greater than the cost of addressing the need, and champions glasses as a low-cost intervention. Citing the developing world’s lack of infrastructure for distribution and training as challenges to fixing the problem, the report brings valuable attention to the issues VisionSpring seeks to address.

    "Innovating in a Social Enterprise: Learning from the Experts at IDEO "

    Anitha Gopalan, VisionSpring India's Manager of Sales and Innovation, discusses her experience working with Human Centered Design experts from IDEO. Learn about how VisionSpring Used this opportunity to evolve our innovations strategy and develop new program to provide eye care for children.

    "Through the design process, we came up with innovative ways to help kids overcome their fear and embarrassment [of vision problems], such as having children practice screening other children and putting up pictures of movie stars who wear glasses on the walls. … These insights proved to us that, while we still have a ways to go in designing our model, we are well on our way to establishing a new model for effectively serving children in need while strengthening our overall sales."

    Article in Harvard Business Review

    In "Making Better Investments at the Base of the Pyramid" Professor Ted London highlights VisionSpring's impact assessment work. Published in the Spring 2009 edition of the Harvard Business Review, the article discusses the difficulties of gauging efficacy in base of the pyramid markets and VisionSpring's cutting-edge impact assessment framework. Developed in partnership with Professor London, the framework allows the management team to listen closely to the voices of those living in poverty and refine the venture's services to create a more successful, sustainable business model."



    If the AOA wants to present a positive image for optometry they should take some lessons from this OD run charity.
     
  3. Paul Farkas

    Paul Farkas Administrator

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    Optometry making a difference around the world...

    See what VisionSpring is accomplishing...

    http://bit.ly/9Etabl

    Jordan Kassalow ,OD,MPH and his charitable work is receiving worldwide recognition. So far in the AOA news not so much.:eek:
     
  4. #4 Feb 15, 2010
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2010
    Paul Farkas

    Paul Farkas Administrator

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    VisionSpring and Dr Jordan Kassalow featured in Parade Magazine

    ODwire.org member Jordan Kassalow,OD,MPH is featured in the 2/14/10 issue of Parade Magazine highlighting what his non-profit organization is accomplishing in the Third World countries...
    http://www.parade.com/news/intelligence-report/archive/100214-a-shared-vision.html

    We anticipate having Jordan join us for a webinar in March to highlight the work he is doing world wide. Time and date will be announced.
     
  5. Paul Farkas

    Paul Farkas Administrator

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  6. Paul Farkas

    Paul Farkas Administrator

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  7. Paul Farkas

    Paul Farkas Administrator

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    As reported in Vision Monday 11/11/10

    "VisionSpring Establishes Eye Care Leadership Council

    November 11, 2010 12:27 AM

    NEW YORK — VisionSpring, the non-profit social enterprise organization, has established a 2010 Eye Care Leadership Council (ECLC).

    According to Vision Spring founder and CEO, Dr. Jordan Kassalow, “The ECLC members to date are participating to help VisionSpring identify new market opportunities and overcome operational challenges, fostering alliances for the improved delivery of products and services to address vision loss in the developing world.”

    VisionSpring’s EyeCare Leadership Council, Kassalow said, “represent an elite set of companies who dedicate time, resources and expertise” to the organization, which is focused on reducing poverty by developing “vision entrepreneurs”, training local villagers to conduct outreach and vision screenings and sell high-quality, low-cost eyeglasses in their communities. These vision entrepreneurs sell affordable reading glasses, sunglasses and eye drops and refer customers needing prescription glasses to a VisionSpring optometrist or a partner eye health institution.

    There are two membership levels for VisionSpring’s new Eye Care Leadership Council; membership is on a rolling-year basis, Kassalow said. Participating at the Gold Circle level today is National Vision. Companies participating at the Silver Circle level include: CIBA Vision, Classic Optical Laboratories, ClearVision Optical, Essilor of America, Luxottica Retail, Logo Group/Premiere Vision and Transitions Optical. The companies have participated either via providing financial resources and/or donating frames to specific VisionSpring initiatives around the world.

    As part of their commitment for joining, the ECLC members have been invited to some special events organized by VisionSpring, including recently a thought-leadership breakfast hosted by Fareed Zakaria of CNN in New York and a discussiong on “Emerging Markets and Eye Care in the Developing World” at Vision Expo West. On Nov. 18, VisionSpring will participate with Champion Charities in presenting a Night at the Theater, also in New York.

    VisionSpring is interested in building the scope of the Eye Care Leadership Council. “We’d like to introduce companies involved in the eyewear and eyecare field to the advantages of partnering with us, and to learn more about how our unique business model is pioneering the sustainable delivery of eyeglasses to low-income communities and, in turn, to develop the market for eyecare in emerging markets.”


    More information on VisionSpring is at VisionSpring.org and also, on VisionMonday.com in its special website section, A Greater Vision.
     
  8. Steven Nelson

    Steven Nelson ODwire.org Supporting Member

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    Dear God....please grant me the strength to prevent the litany of screams in my head from finding it's way onto this thread.
     
  9. Paul Farkas

    Paul Farkas Administrator

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    Your chance to REALLY go public..

    Complaining on ODwire.org would be redundant.

    According to the Vision Monday report...

    "Participating at the Gold Circle level today is National Vision.

    Companies participating at the Silver Circle level include: CIBA Vision, Classic Optical Laboratories, ClearVision Optical, Essilor of America, Luxottica Retail, Logo Group/Premiere Vision and Transitions Optical. The companies have participated either via providing financial resources and/or donating frames to specific VisionSpring"


    You can write to these organizations directly.;)

    Jordan must have a magic touch. Three of those companies will have nothing to with ODwire.org.
     
  10. Steven Nelson

    Steven Nelson ODwire.org Supporting Member

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    Are you trying to make me puke? Seriously Paul...you'll not bait me on this one. A simple search of "Kassalow", "Vision Spring", "Charlatans abusing a lack of healthcare infrastructure" will show plenty of opinions on this subject.
     
  11. Steven Nelson

    Steven Nelson ODwire.org Supporting Member

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    Don't feel badly, Paul. Those three companies SELL things...things that they want Jordan to buy from them so he can then sell those frames/lenses etc to unemployed barbers and waitresses in a bag so they can play doctor on their mopeds.

    It's not surprising at all that someone with a financial interest would be a supporter. I'm a big supporter of Nelson Mobile Eyecare. I might write an article for Parade Magazine. If they had a vested financial interest in ODWire, you can bet they would be lined up to support you.
     
  12. Paul Farkas

    Paul Farkas Administrator

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  13. Matt Pearce

    Matt Pearce Member

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    That was extremely interesting. Thanks for sharing. The first evidence I've seen re: VisionSpring's model. Interesting that the initial model doesn't work.

    If the new model requires optometrists to make the program sustainable it seems to severely limit the parts of the world where this can be made to work. Everyone is looking for eye care human resources. VisionSpring may need to get into the market of training folks. Are they going to end up removing optometrists from the public sector?

    The use of an optometry clinic also raises concerns of barriers to care. Can people get to the clinic? Will they be able to afford the specs? Will they want to go to an eye clinic? What will happen in the clinic in coming years? They make money now but will they also reach a point of saturation like the women did? The initial idea of lay people treating patients in their own villages was interesting. If VisionSpring needs to turn to trained people working in clinics how do they address these access issues?

    Will be interesting to follow to see if Dr. Kassalow can turn it around. It looks like a tough road ahead.
     
  14. Mike Sandy

    Mike Sandy Well-Known Member

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    They already are.

    They already are.

    Honestly, if you can't kill optometry and turn a profit doing it, what's the point?
     
  15. Paul Farkas

    Paul Farkas Administrator

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    How did you think of that?

    That could become the slogan of Costco ODs. You should copy write it and promote it at the next meeting of Costco optometric associates.:rolleyes:
     
  16. Mike Sandy

    Mike Sandy Well-Known Member

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    Really, you can pick on me all day about working at Costco, I don't mind. For you see, I put optometry between the patient and the glasses. And if it matters at all to you, I perform very good, medical optometry. Jordan, however, makes money teaching out of work waitresses to practice optometry without a license as well as selling them all the glasses they can sell and dispense.

    I know we're on opposing sides of this issue, that's obvious. You feel the good outweighs the bad, I see it quite the opposite. I understand you're proud of your associate's son. I respect that.

    You now see it necessary to attack me in defense of Jordan. If you simply want to post news updates about VisionSpring and do not wish to have open discourse on how doctors feel about what Jordan's doing to optometry in developing countries, then I will respect that and simply not post.
     
  17. Steven Nelson

    Steven Nelson ODwire.org Supporting Member

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    You can't have a reasonable, rational discussion with Paul on a topic where he's demonstrated time and time again that he's capable of neither. His man-crush on Jordan is well known.

    Just the fact that he's comparing DOCTORS practicing in a corporate setting to Jordan's abuse of a lack of healthcare infrastructure so he can make a profit from seamstresses selling glasses from the back of a motorcycle says all that needs to be said on this topic. Personally I've given up because it doesn't matter how many doctors on this forum make really salient points, it falls on deaf ears because we're talking about Ted's son.
     
  18. John Demske

    John Demske ODwire.org Supporting Member

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    The critics obviously have never been to a 3rd world country

    Most of the poor of the world have zero money and little chance of employment.
    Jordan is helping those who have initiative help out their communities by providing a product that is unavailable and making a buck or 2 to feed their families..

    And the OD Wire snipers bash him for that?

    Volunteer for a VOSH trip.

    FYI - I don't know Jordan -
    Muhammad Yunus won a Nobel prize for providing microloans to the poor. I'd say Jordan is on the same path.
     
  19. Mike Sandy

    Mike Sandy Well-Known Member

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    John, this isn't VOSH. It's not doctors volunteering their time and expertise seeing and triaging patients in developing countries.

    It's not providing microloans to people to find a sustainable business model. It's teaching them to practice optometry over a weekend and selling them bags filled with glasses that they turn around and sell at a profit. If anything, it's optometric Amway.

    Is learning to perform rudimentary optometry good for the seamstresses? Yes.
    Is teaching seamstresses to perform optometry good for Jordan? It's a means to an end. If they can't perform the exams, they won't buy the glasses.
    Is selling and fitting glasses to people good for the seamstress? Yes.
    Is selling glasses to the seamstresses good for Jordan? Yes.
    Is buying glasses from a seamstress good for the customer who either can't find or can't afford the optometrist or ophthalmologist or doesn't want to? Financially, yes.

    This is the good that is does - and it probably does a fair amount of good. I'll not argue that.

    Is any of this good for optometry however? I say no. You may disagree and call me a "sniper" if makes you feel better. Paul feels it's good for our profession. Everyone is entitled to their opinion.

    To me, it says two things:
    1. You can teach anyone to do what we do over a weekend.
    2. Exams from a moped and readers are good enough for "those people" because they're poor.

    I disagree with both.
     
  20. #20 Feb 7, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2011
    Paul Farkas

    Paul Farkas Administrator

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    Everyone is entitled to their opinion...

    For some it's hard to understand altruism.

    To set the record straight...

    Jordan Kassalow ,OD, MPH is a working partner in a highly successful New York practice...www.eyewise.com. He has the option of having a very fulfilling,comfortable Manhattan lifestyle by pursuing his optometric career full time in the practice. He chose at considerable cost to himself and his family to make VisionSpring a force for good.

    His passion since his days in optometry school is to assist those in need in the the developed countries. Before joining the practice, he worked with Helen Keller International on the River Blindness project...http://www.hki.org/

    He has been a visiting fellow and a consultant for the Council on Foreign Relations,one of the important think tanks in the US...http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Council_on_Foreign_Relations This is the podcast made for this organization...http://www.cfr.org/poverty/kassalow-eyeglasses-developing-world/p14571

    I bring these things up because Jordan will not debate his motives on ODwire.org. It's too bad that his two most vocal critics on this topic, have never met Jordan. I think opinions might change.

    His accomplishments and awards for his efforts indicate what the business and philanthropic communities think of Jordan. If a few ODs don't agree, we'll have to agree to disagree.

    This is my last defense of Jordan. I hope the Forbes Article offers enough information to allow our readers to make up their own mind. There are people in this world who do things for the less fortunate. It's a pity, when some look for a profit motive as the only reason.