Benetech develops innovative and effective technology applications for unmet social needs. In 1989, Benetech was born with a business model intended to keep costs low for users, and the organization quickly became the largest maker of affordable reading systems for the blind. However, very little funds were being generated to invest in new ideas. It was in 2000 that founder and CEO Jim Fruchterman decided to sell the reading machine product line to a for-profit company and reinvest the money from the sale—$5 million—to expand Benetech to new frontiers of social good. Today, Benetech continues to be a different kind of tech company—a nonprofit—with a pure focus on developing technology for social good. More than two decades after its founding, it has grown to include multiple program areas and initiatives that provide technology to improve—even transform—the lives of people all across the world.
Jim Fruchterman, Benetech’s founder and CEO, gave the ESI Lecture and accepted the award on behalf of Benetech.