Essilor partners with organisations and social enterprises in over 40 countries to increase access to aﬀordable vision care. As part of Essilor’s inclusive business practice, 2.5 New Vision Generation was founded in 2013 and provides affordable vision care to underserved populations lacking access to conventional distribution channels. An example of its affordable innovation is Ready2Clip™ glasses. Ready2Clip™ allows pre-cut lenses to be snapped into a wide choice of frames meaning prescription glasses can be dispensed on the spot eliminating waiting times.
Founded in 1993, MART is a knowledge-based consulting ﬁrm working with global businesses, governments and donor agencies. Their expertise exists in accessing emerging markets and Bottom of the Pyramid segments.
The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade provides catalytic funding, gender expertise to strengthen social and commercial impacts, connection to an extensive network, support to capture report social impact, safeguards standards and practices, national and global recognition.
About this partnership
Business Partnership Summary
Globally one in three people cannot see clearly and 90 per cent of these people live in developing countries where they often lack access to eye care. This Business Partnerships Platform (BPP) partnership reduced the investment and risk for global eye care company, Essilor to expand a sustainable commercial model in Bangladesh to address a lack of access to eye care.
The BPP partnership brought Essilor, MART, a training organisation and the Australian Government together to train rural youth to fit glasses and do basic eye testing and referrals, acting as “Eye Mitro” (friend of the eye) in Bangladesh. In two years, over 400 primary vision care providers have been trained, providing nearly 10 million people with access to vision care.
The Australian Government helped to provide credibility to the partnership and accelerate Essilor’s presence and growth in Bangladesh. For the Australian Government, working with the private sector allowed it to explore new ways of engaging with different partners in support of Australia’s focus on health care, skills development, and economic opportunities in Bangladesh.
Learn about the results, commercial sustainability and next steps for this #inclusivebusiness partnership.
An adaptative partnerhip
The partnership took a flexible and adaptive approach, allowing partners to leverage their mutual capabilities and value. Early efforts to develop a shared ways of working and to overcome implementation challenges led the partners to build a collaborative approach which they now describe as a “well-oiled engine”, and a strong mutual understanding of each partner organisation’s objectives and contributions.
Essilor developed the training curriculum, provided for and equipped the training centre, and managed 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 recruited the entrepreneurs, delivered the training modules, collected the franchise and provides ﬁeld support as required. The Australian Government was a critical co-investor and contributes its deep knowledge of the political and regulatory environment in Bangladesh to ensure the success of this initiative.
Despite intentionally targeting broad outreach, women were poorly represented in the first few cohorts of the Eye Mitro program in Bangladesh. The BPP supported partners to conduct a gender analysis, which revealed barriers to entry such as housing, course fees, and family and community expectations. The program hired a female teacher, who stayed in the accommodation with students, and targeted older, married women who could more easily source the course fees.
Partners also ensured that all outreach was communicated equally to the female student and her family, and showed examples of successful female Eye Mitro when speaking to prospective students. As a result, at the end of the program women represented about 22% of students approached about the program and 10% of successful Eye Mitro. While these figures remain low, the work of the partners to increase this from the baseline demonstrates the value of adaptive approaches in proactively addressing barriers as they are identified.