Though Howard Weinstein is not an Audiologist, he has spent many years seeking to serve the disenfranchised and hearing impaired people in developing countries through creative “social entrepreneurship”. When looking at Mr. Weinstein’s resume listing an educational background of Bachelor of Commerce and an MBA with honors in International Business, and vast business experience as an owner of two international plumbing distributorships in Canada, one would be hard pressed to see how a humanitarian with an interest in the hearing impaired and deaf has evolved. However, on closer examination, one can see that Mr. Weinstein has continued to stay actively involved in volunteer work that likely began even before he was enrolled full-time in college.
His volunteer work over the years has included assisting in the establishment of a cancer research organization and a debt-counseling program. For nearly two decades, he has given his time to a pregnancy hotline and shelter, transforming it from a simple help line into an award-winning organization that offers short-term shelter for mothers and infants. Upon “retiring” in 2001 from a business he co-founded, Mr. Weinstein relocated to Otse, Botswana, as a development worker for a non-governmental organization, Camphill Community Trust – Godisa Technologies Trust. His objective with this NGO was to train a local counterpart to run an international business. Godisa has become well known as an ISO certified non-profit social enterprise that designs, manufactures and distributes the first affordable solar powered behind-the-ear hearing aids, solar powered battery charger and rechargeable hearing aid battery for use in developing countries. During Mr. Weinstein’s tenure in Botswana, Godisa opened distributorships in 24 developing countries across the world, and their products have been adopted in many philanthropic outreach programs. It is estimated that more than 4000 affordable hearing aids have been provided to hearing impaired individuals within developing countries.
Mr. Weinstein’s more recent activities have included founding “LSS Consultoria” based in Sao Paulo, Brazil, which will set up an affordable hearing aid project in cooperation with the University of Sao Paulo and a number of Brazilian NGOs. Much like the Godisa model, the LSS Consultoria aims to partner with local resources to provide deaf education, affordable earmolds, and rechargeable batteries for cochlear implants, as well as offering empowerment programs and affordable hearing aids. Many not for profit and NGO groups in developing countries are looking to develop their own versions of the affordable solar powered hearing aids much like Godisa products. Though Mr. Weinstein recognizes that he is facilitating others to compete with Godisa or LSS Consultoria, he says, “Each project will ultimately help the less advantaged children in its region and enable them to be integrated into local schools.” With his keen business eye on lowering product costs, securing funding, and enhancing product features, Howard Weinstein remains relentless in creating opportunities for people with hearing disabilities to access the hearing world through affordable and high quality hearing aids while improving overall health and education in the community.
Howard Weinstein is the subject of an article in the May 12, 2008, issue of Newsweek. Click here to read the article.