Scaling Impact Through Partnerships: VisionSpring Case Study

VisionSpring’s mission is to ensure that everyone in the developing world has access to eyeglasses. For many in the developing world, the lack of access to affordable eyeglasses leads to the unnecessary loss of educational and employment opportunities.

VisionSpring was founded on a very basic principle: “If you can't see, you can't work.” For 10 years, we have refined their business models and recently sold our 1,000,000th pair of glasses. We are on track to sell 10,000,000 more in the next 10 years, and a big part of this number will be through our partnerships.

VisionSpring's Innovative Solution

VisionSpring has developed market-appropriate business models to deliver affordable and high-quality eyeglasses to the BoP consumer. In El Salvador, the consumer base is served by Optical Shops that offer comprehensive eye care. In India, VisionSpring’s target customers live in remote, rural areas that we currently reach through our innovative mobile optical store model.

However, we recognize that to achieve our mission and scale our impact, we need to leverage existing public, private, and NGO networks. VisionSpring recently launched the Global Partnerships division to accomplish this task.

Case Study: BRAC Partnership

Glasses are a simple, small investment that yields tremendous impact. A recent study showed that a pair of VisionSpring’s reading glasses on average increases work productivity by 35% and income by 20%. This impact can be seen through our tremendously successful partnership with the world’s largest NGO, BRAC.

One of the prevailing trends in public health is the use of health workers to deliver health products and services to underserved communities. In partnership with BRAC, VisionSpring has already trained 7,500 health workers in Bangladesh to sell reading glasses (in addition to their other products) and are working towards our goal of equipping all 85,000 health workers with the ability to sell glasses. This model of operation has proven to be financially sustainable for BRAC with sales revenue from glasses covering the associated costs to run the program.

A great example of this added value can be seen through the story of Jhili, an embroiderer in Bangladesh. Jhili suffered severe headaches and decreased productivity when she reached her thirties and her vision decreased. With success reliant on a high level of precision and speedy turnaround, Jhili earned less with each passing month. After purchasing a pair of VisionSpring glasses from a BRAC health worker, Jhili's earnings jumped immediately, and she can now send her children to school.

This case study accurately depicts the benefits for VisionSpring, BRAC, and its beneficiaries. We have established similar partnerships with Community Enterprise Solutions in Guatemala and LivingGoods in Uganda and have also worked with MFI’s like Fundacion Paraguaya in Paraguay.

Innovating to Meet Partner Demands

One of the keys of VisionSpring’s success in collaboration is its willingness to innovate and adapt to partner needs and demands. In response to many organizations seeking even simpler ways to add glasses to their operations, we recently developed a Do-It-Yourself display that can be placed in highly trafficked areas such as low cost health clinics. These displays are similar to those found in US pharmacies, and customers can follow 3 simple steps to determine what power is necessary for a pair of reading glasses. We also have created new training videos (click here to view promo) and plan to offer our own line of glasses frames by the end of this year.

VisionSpring’s new Do-It-Yourself (DIY) display for reading glasses.

CALL TO ACTION: Join VisionSpring

After having just launched its Global Partnerships channel this past year, VisionSpring is now selling glasses in 18 developing countries through 23 different partners. We constantly seek out new, mutually-beneficial partnerships with a wide variety of organizations, and I urge anyone interested to contact us at jhutchinson@visionspring.org to explore partnership opportunities. I am waiting to hear from you!