Both Scojo Foundation and Scojo New York, a high-end reading glasses company serving the US market, were formed in 2001. Five percent of the pre-tax profits from Scojo New York were designated for the Scojo Foundation. In 2008, after the sale of Scojo New York, Scojo Foundation changed its name to VisionSpring, launching a new identity reflecting its mission to reduce poverty and generate opportunity in the developing world through vision. The Open Society Institute provided seed capital to launch the first pilot in India.
VisionSpring’s early work involved training local people, or Vision Entrepreneurs, to conduct outreach and sell quality, low cost eyeglasses in their communities. Despite the clear need for basic eye care in these communities, the Vision Entrepreneur model soon proved unsustainable in isolation. In response, VisionSpring has adapted its interventions to include a hub and spoke approach that deploys a cross-subsidization pricing strategy enabling VisionSpring to address the public health need for eyeglasses while building sustainable businesses. Today, Vision Entrepreneurs continue to conduct vision campaigns in El Salvador and India selling glasses on site and providing customers who need more complex care treatment with referrals - either to a VisionSpring Optical Shop or reputed eye clinics in the region.
Additionally, VisionSpring is now replicating its proprietary distribution channels in new regions and broadening its reach through its Global Partnerships channel. To do this, they are exploring strategic partnerships with NGO’s and businesses focused on last mile distribution in an effort to unlock development gains by aligning its work with products already in high demand by the BoP customer. They are now working in 20+ countries with 23+ different partners to distribute their products, and have their first fixed optical store in Karnal, India.