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In January, Essilor organised its first Eye Mitra annual convention for local entrepreneurs. Weeks later, the Group’s Advanced Management Program brought in 33 senior staff from 12 countries to learn about developing markets on the ground at Indian rural eye clinics.

“There is no age limit for learning new things. I successfully completed my training and am now doing well and conducting vision screening camps regularly,” said Mr Nand Kishore, a previously unemployed 57 year-old at the Eye Mitra (“Friend of the Eyes” in Hindi) Convention.

One of the first wave of Essilor trainees, he has  acquired the skills and knowledge to become a “friend of the eyes” in his local community, and given a starter-kit to help set up his new business. He was one of around 100 individuals at the convention near Delhi. Many had travelled long distances to swap ideas with their fellow Eye Mitras and interact with Essilor managers.

“There is no age limit for learning new things. I successfully completed my training and am now doing well and conducting vision screening camps regularly”

Mr Manzoor Ahmed, an Eye Mitra running his own shop on the India and Pakistan border, commented on the event: “There are very few opportunities for employment but after this training I got the confidence and skills to start something on my own.”

The Eye Mitra project has the objective to train 10,000 Eye Mitra practitioners by 2020, who would in turn potentially equip 2.3 million people. The project is a test bed for Essilor in its mission to improve lives by improving sight, and India is fertile ground for management to understand the complexity of markets in very different stages of evolution.

Said Elizabeth Perrier, Corporate Training Manager responsible for Essilor’s Advanced Management Program, “Our week’s learning was  enriched by the unique opportunity to spend a day with the 2.5 New Vision Generation mobile eye clinics in rural Mysore.”

Participants travelled four hours into the countryside to accompany Essilor eye care professionals and volunteers at the Van Camp. Comments included: “A life changing and unforgettable experience,” and “wonderful work that Essilor is part of.”