The cause is worth every penny.
More than 360 million people, about 10% of them children, are unable to understand speech in most contexts due to hearing loss. Most people disabled by hearing loss live in low- and middle-income countries, where audiologists are rare and help inaccessible due to distance and the cost of hearing aids. The consequences of not being able to hear put a ceiling one’s potential to learn, earn, and connect with others.
World Wide Hearing is a non-profit that provides access to affordable hearing aids for youth in developing countries. They will be able to drastically expand their services given a $500,000 grant from the newly launched Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities Initiative.
"This is an exciting new chapter for those of us who are addressing hearing loss!" exclaims Audra Renyi, the Executive Director of World Wide Hearing.
World Wide Hearing, a 2014 GSBI Accelerator Alumnus and 2012 GSBI Online alumnus, recently received one of two "anchor" grants from the Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities Initiative. The other grantee, Enable Community Foundation, creates 3-D printed prosthetic limbs for children.
The Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities program will eventually award $20 million in grants, funneled through Google.org, to nonprofits that work on assistive technologies.
"We’re kicking things off with support for two remarkable organizations." said Google.org director Jacquelline Fuller in a blog post. "Each of these organizations is using technology to dramatically reduce the cost of and access to prosthetic limbs and auditory therapy, respectively—which could be transformative for hundreds of millions of people."
The GSBI staff connected Audra to Google.org after she completed the GSBI Accelerator program and published her GSBI Investment Profile.
"The GSBI family has been instrumental to our growth and increased impact. Their advice and mentoring have been invaluable," says Audra. "I want to extend my sincere thanks to all of the GSBI for their support!"
Additionally, Audra just launched a new, separate for-profit social enterprise, Hearing Access World, and received a $900,000 CAD impact investment repayable grant from Grand Challenges Canada. More exciting things are just around the corner. Stay tuned!