Eye Mitra inclusive business program showcased at Davos 2020

The challenge to provide eye care to the 1 in 3 people who cannot see the world clearly can sometimes seem insurmountable. 90% of people who still suffer from uncorrected poor vision live in developing communities where access to eye care professionals and awareness on the importance of vision in general, is limited.

To reach low-income populations and improve sustainable access to basic vision care, EssilorLuxottica - via its operating company Essilor - has been innovating to create new approaches in terms of refraction tools, products and business models, as part of its ambition to eliminate poor vision by 2050. This includes the Eye Mitra (meaning “friend of the eye” in Sanskrit) inclusive business program, which empowers people with knowledge, skills and a little bit of financial support to become primary vision care providers, addressing the need for vision care in their own communities in a sustainable way. 

Business as unusualAt this year's World Economic Forum in Davos, the Eye Mitra program was featured in a newly launched report called 'Business as unusual' developed by Yunus Social Business, Porticus, Schwab Foundation, INSEAD and the Hoffmann Global Institute for Business & Society – together with a steering group of academics and practitioners. The objective of the report is to shed more light on the nascent phenomenon of social intrapreneurship, based on quantitative experiments, interviews and studies to measure the transformative effect of corporate social business.

Out of 100 identified inclusive corporate-level initiatives, the Eye Mitra program was showcased as a prime example of business as a force for good, as it uses the Group’s experience in ophthalmic optics to provide access to eye care services while investing in skills development and creating micro-entrepreneurs in rural communities. 

"We are very happy and proud to see our Eye Mitra initiative as one of the examples of business as a force of good in the report launched at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos. We reaffirm our commitment to eliminate poor vision from the world by 2050,” said Jayanth Bhuvaraghan, Chief Mission Officer, EssilorLuxottica.

The Eye Mitra program was first launched in 2013 to increase sustainable access and awareness of vision care for underserved populations as well as create employment opportunities through entrepreneurship. The program trains women and men to become primary vision care providers and micro-entrepreneurs, supporting qualified candidates to open their own optical stores in their communities. 

Today Eye Mitra is the world’s largest rural optical network with localized models in Bangladesh, Kenya, and Indonesia. These ‘start-ups’ provide 200 million people with sustainable access to vision care. This, and other EssilorLuxottica programs, earned the Group a spot on Fortune’s Change the World list.

Watch this video for inspiring accounts on the Eye Mitra program in India.

Click here to find out more about Eye Mitra