In China, 600 million people suffer from uncorrected poor vision and many of them live in rural communities without access to eye care. To reach them, our inclusive business, 2.5 New Vision Generation (2.5 NVG) launched an innovative business model by partnering for the first time with China’s largest e-commerce platform, Alibaba.
Together, Essilor and Alibaba aim to bring eye care services to all of China, eliminating poor vision and improving lives in rural communities.
Mobile vans and e-commerce enable easy access
Local optometrists travel to rural communities in mobile vans to conduct refraction tests for residents. Once residents have the prescription they need, they can buy glasses online at their local Taobao service center, using Rural Taobao, an ecosystem which enables rural consumers to enjoy the same selection of goods and services available to their urban counterparts.
Many of the 600 million suffering from uncorrected poor vision in China are living in rural communities. 78% of them have never had any kind of eye examination, only about 1 in 6 children who need glasses actually have them. This is because there are no proper eye care services in these communities and the most basic services are located at county centers which can be as far as a few hundred kilometers away.
The partnership started with pilot programs in Anhui and Henan with 42 optometrists and 14 mobile vans. We traveled to 43 counties and 998 villages to provide free refraction tests to over 13,000 people. Of these, over 1,600 required vision correction and were able to order their very first pair of glasses from their local Taobao service centers.
Since 2013, Essilor has been exploring different inclusive business models to solve the issue of access to vision care by creating the infrastructure to serve ‘base of the pyramid’ consumers.