Uncorrected vision is the world’s most widespread disability and affects 2.5 billion people, 90 per cent of whom live in developing countries.
This partnership aims to address an unmet need in vision care services in Bangladesh by creating provisions for affordable refraction correction and referral services, and to stimulate socio-economic improvements in rural areas and create vital economic opportunities for rural youth trained as Eye Mitra Opticians and supported to set up micro-enterprises within their communities. By testing this business model in specific locations in Bangladesh, it can then be replicated in other areas.
By training up to 400 unemployed/under-employed young people to become Eye Mitra Opticians, this partnership creates affordable vision care services (correction of refraction and referral services) for up to 94,500 vision-impaired, low income customers in specific rural and peri-urban areas in Bangladesh. Of these 400 Eye Mitra Opticians, 250 are expected to set up micro-enterprises to offer vision correction services and referral advice.
Essilor, MART and Grameen Kalyan manage this initiative. Essilor is developing the training curriculum, providing and equipping the training centre, and managing the production, supply chain and last-mile connectivity (i.e. the movement of people and goods from the transportation hub to the final destination) of the eyeglasses. MART recruits the entrepreneurs, delivers the training modules, collects the franchise and provides ﬁeld support as required. DFAT is a critical co-investor and contributes its deep knowledge of the political and regulatory environment in Bangladesh to ensure the success of this initiative.
This partnership creates shared value by reconceiving products and markets and enabling local cluster development. It contributes to Essilor’s growth by creating its next generation of customers. Once the supply chain is established, Essilor will create an additional market for quality affordable spectacles in hospitals and health centres. By creating 250 vision-focused micro-enterprises in rural areas, Essilor stimulates rural economies and creates new jobs. Access to affordable eyeglasses has many socio-economic beneﬁts and Essilor estimates this initiative will initially benefit up to 94,500 vision-impaired people.