Program Lead



San Jose, CA, USA
Posted on Friday, October 6, 2023

Are you a change maker who wants to play a pivotal role in restoring vision for millions of people in low-income settings across Malawi?

The pioneering social enterprise, VisionSpring, seeks a lead to manage the Reading Glasses for Improved Livelihoods (RGIL) Program with Malawi Council of Churches, our primary implementing partner, to implement RGIL to create access to affordable reading glasses in low-income communities in Malawi. The person in this position coordinates and collaborates closely with counterparts at Malawi Council of Churches to help local church councils sell eyeglasses by delivering effective training, providing marketing support, and monitoring stock levels and demand forecasts. Secondarily, the lead supports new program launches with organizations that have community-based field operations in order to increase the depth and breadth of eyeglass distribution channels and drive customer demand for eyeglasses in low-income communities. The lead is based in Lilongwe and reports to the global RGIL program manager (based in India) who oversees the RGIL program. This is a full-time position with a three-month probation period. This is an initial program for VisionSpring in Malawi. Therefore, the lead will also be the initial and sole representative of the organization on the ground.

About You
  • You want to build a socially oriented business. You are self-motivated and accustomed to being a top performer in a high-growth environment. Nothing feels better than achieving your targets.
  • You are a “people person,” and are energized by meeting strangers and finding areas of shared interest through which to build connection and rapport.
  • You love to travel to even the most remote districts within Malawi and think of sharing public transportation with your colleagues as an adventure.
  • You are strategic in your approach to deepening market penetration and nurturing key relationships. You’re always on the lookout for new, scalable routes to market to reach your target customers.
  • You see the truth in numbers and keep a close eye on your sales figures. If they’re off target, you’ll dive into the data to make effective decisions and improve results.
  • You see the potential in others and your goal is to help them grow. You enjoy mentoring and coaching your peers so that teams can succeed.
  • You have the experience, maturity, confidence, and communication skills to interact with people in senior positions. You can get others excited about what they are going to do.
About Us
  • VisionSpring is creating access to affordable eyewear, everywhere. Clear vision creates opportunities for increased learning, work, safety, civic participation, and quality of life.
  • As a social enterprise, social change motivates us first. Our focus on sales and revenue targets serves and advances our mission objective—to increase functioning, productivity, and income earning potential for our low-income consumers by correcting refractive errors with eyeglasses.
  • We are working to transform the systemic dysfunction of an optical market that has failed to deliver eyeglasses—a 700-year-old technology—to 1.1 billion consumers in need of vision correction, most of whom live on less than $4 a day.
  • We serve low-income consumers, not as beneficiaries but as customers. Our customers expect a high-quality and affordable product, and they will spend limited discretionary income for the immediate and tangible benefits of vision correction.
  • By selling eyeglasses, we awaken new demand and seed a viable market. By selling new eyeglasses we are able to serve four times as many people per dollar input than the alternative of donating recycled ones. To efficiently scale, we must deliver each new unit with lower cost.
  • We run our business on both sales metrics and social impact measures. We use a range of organizational forms and practices to get the job done.
  • We believe in scaling our impact, not our organization. We are a lean team of doers.
What You’ll Do

Implement and Manage Reading Glasses for Improved Livelihoods Program
  • Manage the RGIL Program in Malawi to increase access to, and sales of, eyeglasses for low-income consumers.
  • Maintain close working relationships with Malawi Council of Churches colleagues to support the implementation of the RGIL Program across the country.
  • Assist the Malawi Council of Churches team in creating marketing collateral and driving awareness about the power of clear vision among potential customers, including the development and introduction of simple leaflets or other cost-effective promotional activities.
  • Conduct regular surveys and assessments of the RGIL Program with Malawi Council of Churches colleagues. Assist in preparing written reports summarizing the program achievements against targets; areas of success, failure, and learning; and recommendations for continuous performance improvement.
Sales Performance Support
  • Collaborate with Malawi Council of Churches’ team members to meet and exceed eyeglass sales targets.
  • Monitor weekly sales data from sub-districts and districts; review monthly sales reports.
  • Engage with Malawi Council of Churches sales officers to sustain/improve sales performance in their territories.
  • Develop plans with Malawi Council of Churches counterparts to increase sales in low-performance districts, including refresher training, marketing, and targeted customer outreach campaigns.
  • Develop and implement reward and recognition programs for high performers.
  • Faithfully and accurately enter all program activity in Salesforce, VisionSpring’s customer relationship management system.
  • Prepare monthly key indicators report (performance management report) to assure RGIL program goals are met.
Training Delivery
  • Develop deep knowledge about presbyopia screening and reading glasses sales; become a master trainer in order to train community health workers or other networks of community-based sales teams.
  • Train Malawi Council of Churches ’s team members to facilitate their learning and continuous improvement.
Supply Chain Oversight
  • Work closely with the supply chain team to ensure high-quality products are shipped to partners.
  • Review monthly stock reports and anticipate supply chain problems to ensure an uninterrupted supply of products to customers.
  • Support Malawi Council of Churches team in accurate demand forecasting and in placing advanced purchase orders.
New Business Development and Representation
  • Represent VisionSpring at stakeholder meetings, government forums, and in peer groups. Attend educational and market development events such as partner workshops, seminars, conferences, trainings, etc.
  • Maintain and deepen close working relationships with new partners.
  • Use your creativity to find new paths, and expand existing ones, to bring reading glasses to our target population.
  • Bachelor’s degree.
  • At least 5 years professional experience, 2 years project experience. Project cycle management certification (PMP) will be a plus.
  • Experience in some combination of project implementation and management, partnership development and management, wholesale/B2B sales, and/or training and capacity building.
  • Excellent communication skills in English and proficient in local language.
  • Experience working in rural areas of Malawi and willingness to travel up to 50% of the time to remote districts via public transportation.
  • Preferred experience: Social enterprise, healthcare, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), NGO, and/or sales in rural markets.
  • Salary based on experience.
  • Exciting performance-based bonuses will be paid for achieving sales targets.
  • VisionSpring offers generous accrued vacation time.
To Apply
  • Please submit your application, including a thoughtful cover letter and CV/résumé.
  • Please update your CV/résumé to include a brief description (one or two sentences) about the business/mission of each organization where you have worked.
  • Please note, only candidates to be interviewed will be contacted.
  • VisionSpring is an Equal Opportunity Employer. People from historically marginalized populations are encouraged to apply.