At Essilor, Jayanth Bhuvaraghan, recently retired Chief Mission Officer (CMO), had launched and then promoted an original base-of-pyramid (BOP) operation in India, which recruited, trained and set up some 8,000 Eye Mitras to operate in remote rural communities. These primary vision care providers were able to run vision tests and produce correction lenses and glasses for the rural population at costs they could afford and, in the process, significantly improve the quality of life for millions.
However, the program was still in its infancy and achieving its ambitious goal of eliminating poor vision by 2050 would require a new, more ambitious roadmap, which had to include recruiting other organizations – including eye hospitals, foundations and non-government organizations – to leverage its efforts for maximum impact, in the spirit of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 17 (SDG 17).
For Essilor to deliver on its own commitments and work with other organizations in India to execute on the strategy, it had to add another 52,000 Eye Mitras to its existing network, to reach a total of 60,000, which was essential to achieving the goal of eliminating poor vision by 2050. The litmus test was to determine how it could best contribute to making this happen.
The path was clear, but the goals remained ambitious. Could it convince others to join the efforts to make this part of the world a better place to live? The quality of the lives of millions of rural Indians lay in the balance.
• Discuss the challenges of corporate impact investments and base-of-the-pyramid initiatives.
• Investigate operational business models to engage others in reaching ambitious social goals.
• Build the business case for social projects.
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