Howard Weinstein is the creator of the SolarEar, a radically sustainable and affordable advancement in hearing aids that are designed, manufactured and distributed by the hearing impaired.
“I went to Geneva to show them their dream and they basically rejected us, as we solved the problem. I knew then we were on the right path.”
Howard Weinstein has developed a hearing aid that is sustainably powered, radically affordable, and employs the demographic that they serve. “Imagine, we started with 10 young adults who are deaf, from rural Botswana, who did not finish grade 9, had no water, nor electricity,” Howard says, “And it was these young adults who invented, developed, manufacture and sell our solar powered hearing aids.”
Howard himself is a self-starter, previously earning big as the president of a plumbing supply company and then remaking himself in the wake of the loss of his 10-year-old daughter, Sarah, to a sudden brain aneurysm. He followed an opportunity to go to Africa to start work on the SolarEar "with no money, no people, no products,” he says — only armed with the World Health Organization’s description of the ideal solution to hearing impairment, which they estimate affects 275 million people, over 80% of whom live in developing nations.
“Within 9 months, we raised the money and developed the first rechargeable hearing aid,” Howard says. “Since then [we] have invented 3 more products and solved some of the roadblocks in bringing hearing health to developing countries in an innovative way using very disruptive but sustainable business practices.”
He emphasizes that the key to the company’s success is that the products have been developed by the people who use them. By creating a more desirable product, one that is as aesthetic as it is functional, “we will eliminate the stigma of wearing a hearing aid!” enthuses Howard. “The products they invented have been exhibited at Smithsonian and Alexander Graham Bell Museum and appeared in an article in National Geographic titled, ‘Brilliant Eco-Inventions of our Time.’ I on the other hand cannot screw in a light bulb and often joke that I do not know the difference between a decibel and Tinkerbelle.”