David Green


Through “compassionate capitalism”, David Green works to provide high-quality, affordable medical technology and healthcare to the poor.

Focus: Health, Technology
Geographic Area of Impact: Global
Recognition: Schwab Fellow of the World Economic Forum

David Green has long been at the vanguard of global efforts to make medical technology and healthcare services sustainable, affordable and accessible to all, particularly to the poorer two-thirds of humanity. His most significant work is the development of an economic paradigm he calls “humanized capitalism”, for making healthcare products and services available and affordable to the poor. This paradigm uses production capacity and surplus revenue to serve all economic strata, rich and poor, in a way that is both financially self-sustaining and affordable to all members of society.

Innovation and Activities
In 1992 Green directed the establishment of Aurolab, a not-for-profit manufacturing facility in India. Aurolab is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of intraocular lenses (IOLs), which are surgically implanted in the eye to replace the cloudy lens during cataract surgery. In developing countries Aurolab sells lenses for US$ 2-4 (compared to US$ 150 in the developed world), helping countless patients that otherwise could never afford such treatment to preserve their sight and ability to work. He also established the production of a wound closure product at Aurolab.

Green helped develop high-volume, quality eyecare programmes that are affordable to the poor and self-sustaining from user fees. He helped develop the Aravind Eye Hospital in Madurai, India, which performs 300,000 surgeries annually, making it the largest eyecare system in the world. Approximately 70% of this care is provided free-of-charge or below cost, yet the hospital generates substantial surplus revenue. Green replicated this cost recovery model in Nepal, Malawi, Egypt, Guatemala, El Salvador, Tibet, Tanzania and Kenya, and has assisted other institutions in providing sustainability planning services and training, such as the Al Noor Foundation in Egypt and the Lions Aravind Institute for Community Ophthalmology in India.

He collaborated with the International Agency for Prevention of Blindness, Ashoka and Deutsche Bank to create an “Eye Fund” that provides US$ 15 million in affordable loan financing for sustainable eye care programmes and a related US$ 1.5 million capacity building grant fund. He co-founded the Oxford Lotus Health Fund, which will invest in making healthcare equitable and sustainable in developing countries, and is a vice-President of Ashoka, where he leads an initiative to make solar energy affordable to low income communities. He works with Pacific Vision Foundation to develop an eye hospital serving northern California where revenues from insured patients cover costs of the uninsured, and collaborates with Grameen Health in Bangladesh to develop eye hospitals. He developed the social enterprise company Quantum Catch to develop affordable retinal imaging for eye disease detection and monitoring, and a non-invasive method for monitoring glucose levels for diabetics. Recently he has focused on making good hearing affordable and accessible as a co-founder of Conversion Sound, which developed an affordable high-quality digital hearing device with a novel, “de-medicalized” way for hearing devices to be fitted by non-medical technicians or directly by the consumer.

The Entrepreneur
David Green's philosophy of development emphasizes “deconstructing reality” to see that much of the world's problems are due to human artifice that creates economic paradigms favouring the concentration of wealth into the hands of the few. He addresses the pricing disparity that exists and works to put basic human needs like sight and hearing into the realm of affordability for the blind, visually disabled and hard-of-hearing. He has a Master’s in Public Health and Bachelor's in General Studies (Honours) from the University of Michigan.

Green is a MacArthur Fellow and Ashoka Fellow. He is the 2009 recipient of the Spirit of Helen Keller Award, given by the Helen Keller International for humanitarian efforts in blindness prevention, and the 2009 University of Michigan Humanitarian Service Award.