Project Lead(s): Peter Eliassen
This project will scale up an innovative business model for providing affordable and appropriate eyeglasses and vision care to people living at the base of the economic pyramid.
VisionSpring has brought eyeglasses and high-quality vision care to nearly two million people living at the base of the economic pyramid. In addition to sourcing affordable eyeglasses for partner non-profit organizations around the world, VisionSpring operates a network of optical shops in small and mid-sized urban locations in El Salvador and India. These shops target low-income customers left behind by higher-priced retailers and also act as hubs for trained staff to travel into rural villages, visiting those who might not otherwise be able to access quality care or eyewear, and who often live in even deeper poverty.
With this investment, VisionSpring will be able to expand from five stores to 27, with new hub-and-spoke locations planned for Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala, where 35 to 60 percent of the national populations fall below the poverty line. The stores are projected to serve over 1.3 million people during the next five years.
Importantly, the growth will also enable VisionSpring’s Central American operations to generate larger sales volumes and economies of scale needed to become financially self-sustaining.
The investment in VisionSpring’s Central America operations complements another investment in VisionSpring’s work in Bangladesh, led by the Skoll Foundation and Grand Challenges Canada in late 2013. In Bangladesh, VisionSpring and BRAC, a non-governmental organization, partner to train and equip BRAC’s national network of community health workers to conduct vision screens and distribute appropriate eyeglasses, alongside the other health education and services they deliver. The investment by Skoll and Grand Challenges Canada will extend the VisionSpring partnership to all 48 districts of Bangladesh where BRAC offers comprehensive health services. The partnership is projected to sell over 1.5 million pairs of eyeglasses in five years and will enable the program to become cost-neutral for BRAC.