There are hundreds of millions of people in rural India who need glasses to be able to see normally. However, they have problems with getting them for a number of reasons. These include the need to go to a hospital in a city to have an eye test, their total lack of financial resources and their fatalistic attitude to life. In the course of a co-operative programme carried out with Indian hospitals, Essilor discovered this area of deprivation. It subsequently designed a very low-cost production chain, a distribution network which used mobile vans and a convincing sales talk, all of which enabled Essilor to sell glasses for just a few dollars. This operation has been in place for two years and it seems that the business model has proved to be justified. Even though the scheme is still on a small scale and has a turnover of only tens of thousands of dollars, this initiative has still managed to arouse a great deal of interest amongst many people in the business community. What is emerging is an economic business in its own right.
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