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This month an Indian government body and a European bank added their weight to the push for better eye care in rural areas of India. Funding partnerships like these are enabling the Eye Mitra programme to ramp up the number of young people empowered to become vision entrepreneurs.

A first of its kind partnership with government body Rajasthan Skill and Livelihoods Development Corporation (RSLDC) will help Essilor’s 2.5 NVG inclusive business division to provide EMO training to the youth of Rajasthan. Through a two-month residential programme, partially funded by RSLDC, youths in Rajasthan will be trained and equipped with the skills to conduct basic vision tests and dispense spectacles.

In the next three years, 4,000 youths are expected to be trained at five centres across the state of Rajasthan.

In another ground-breaking agreement, 2.5 NVG India has received financial support of almost EUR 200.000 from DEG-Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbH, a German development institution, which among other activities supports projects in development countries funded by the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

This investment will help to develop the EMO programme in the southern state of Karnataka, alongside the Asia Society for Social Improvement & Sustainable Transformation (ASSIST), an international NGO focused on capacity building in Asia and Africa with extensive Public-Private-Partnership experience. Both partners will gain first-time experience in the domain of vision care services.

The Eye Mitra Opticians (EMO) programme in India is gathering speed one year on from its launch.  Recently awarded a ‘Rural Action Award’ at India’s World CSR Day, the programme is now attracting the attention of NGO’s and bilateral donors in other emerging markets. From local government bodies to European banks, organisations are coming together to grow the programme from pilot scheme to larger scale movement.