Impaired vision is the most common disability in the world. Yet its impact on society is largely unrecognized, as is the fact that simple solutions already exist. Jayanth Bhuvaraghan, Essilor’s Chief Corporate Mission Officer, explains how the Group’s See Change program aims to innovate across the board to create new pathways to healthy vision for all.
“Seeing well improves everything –from being able to read and doing well in school to employability and personal well-being. But one-third of the global population is still prevented from accessing vision care because of where they live, what they believe or what they can afford. Many do not even realize they are disadvantaged.
Bridging the gap requires different thinking and fresh approaches. That’s why we decided in 2013 to leverage the Group’s expertise and geographic reach in order to accelerate our actions aimed at tackling the growing global challenge of uncorrected vision. Thanks to initiatives led by our teams on the ground in over twenty countries, Essilor will provide first-time access to vision care to over a million people in 2015, with millions more expected to benefit from these programs in the next five years.
Together, we drive and support a range of inclusive business and non-profit initiatives that are creating tangible impact in people’s lives
We have not done this alone. Tackling the issue of vision care for all requires a multi-stakeholder effort and cross-sector partnerships with NGO’s, social entrepreneurs and public bodies to name but a few. Together, we drive and support a range of inclusive business and non-profit initiatives that are creating tangible impact in people’s lives:
- Raising awareness and advocacy efforts are fundamental, to ensure that vision care has the attention it deserves, and that people understand the quality of life benefits of healthy vision. The Vision Impact Institute, founded by Essilor in 2013, plays a key role here;
- Empowering individuals to become change makers in their own communities through job and infrastructure creation is our second line of action. To this end, we have created our Base of Pyramid Innovation Lab. Supported by the Singapore Economic Development Board, its role is to evaluate and advise on new business models, before acting as an incubator to test the most sustainable vision care projects.
Deploying and scaling up the most viable new business models on the ground is the role of our inclusive business division – 2. 5 New Vision Generation (NVG). 2.5 NVG is gathering momentum in its role to provide access to affordable vision care to the approximately 3 billion people in the world who live on low incomes. Its products are now distributed in 22 emerging countries.
We have a big ambition to see change. So earlier this year we launched Essilor Vision For Life to step up our efforts worldwide. This is the largest corporate strategic giving programme dedicated to eliminating poor vision. Essilor has committed 30 million Euros to this program and we really believe this will be a game changer in accelerating the sustainable development of basic vision care in all the markets where there is drastic shortage of eye care providers and infrastructure;
- Finally, we aim to bring healthy vision to the most marginalized populations throughout the world through specific outreach programs that focus primarily on children and women, in addition to our long-term partnership with the Special Olympics Healthy Athletes program. The Essilor Vision Foundation, which started life in the U.S. in 2008, has since expanded to India, China and Southeast Asia.
To sum up, See Change is our commitment to sustainable vision care for all. It is also our commitment to doing business responsibly, paying attention to all our different stakeholders, to ensure the growth needed to drive change on a large scale and to fulfill our mission of improving lives by improving sight.”
For more information, download the See Change report, available on this website.