Promoting affordable vision correction services to rural populations in Bangladesh

Promoting affordable vision correction services to rural populations in Bangladesh

Round 2 Bangladesh Education and Health Completed

62%

38%

Partner contribution

$ 634,275

DFAT contribution

$ 388,875

Icon Total Funds

Total Value

$ 1,023,150


Start: December 2017 - End: March 2020

Partners

Essilor

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.

MART

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.

Grameen Kalyan

Grameen Kalyan delivers affordable primary healthcare to rural households in Bangladesh, which includes families of Grameen Bank members. Currently it runs around 106 community-based health centres in rural areas with every centre covering an area with 35,000 to 42,000 people. Grameen Kalyan has been operating an eye care programme since 2005, which is currently limited to identification of eye problems and cataract surgery in three regions. Grameen Kalyan has also been executing a ‘Young Entrepreneur Program’ for un-employed youth by extending financial support to create self-employment opportunities.

About this partnership

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.

Gender

This initiative promotes women’s economic empowerment by building skills and supporting women to establish Eye Mitra businesses. The partnership aims to have at least 15 per cent women Eye Mitras providing low cost vision services to populations with little or no access to eye care.  A 2015 study conducted on a similar initiative in India found working as an Eye Mitra increased women’s independence and income, and improved their social status. Similar results are expected in Bangladesh. Women are expected to benefit from the self-confidence gained from increased respect from their families and communities, sustainable and worthwhile employment, improved life and business skills, and greater financial independence. For first-time female and male spectacle wearers, the benefits include improved mobility, and productivity at home and at work.

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