$6 Eyeglasses for the Poor

by VisionSpring
May 24, 2013

First Quarter Update

happy customer in El Salvador
happy customer in El Salvador

VisionSpring enjoyed a strong First Quarter 2013.  Among the highlights:

  • In a momentous first for our global operations, VisionSpring El Salvador’s businesses achieved and maintained operational profitability.
  • VisionSpring and BRAC are nearing conclusion on the renewal of our successful five-year partnership in Bangladesh, anticipating sales of 1.7 million pairs of glasses over 60 months.
  • VisionSpring India tripled its number of optical shops in major surgery centers as we adapt our hub-and-spoke model, developed in El Salvador, for replication in India.

El Salvador

VisionSpring El Salvador’s new country director, Tony Trabanino, established strict cost controls and launched a team of 10 vision entrepreneurs working exclusively on commission in rural regions.  Through his efforts, in January El Salvador became our first channel to break even, and operational profitability has been maintained since.  We expect to expand in El Salvador, and scale in Central America with both philanthropic and impact investment in 2014.  We also introduced customer-satisfaction surveys at our optical shops and at vision campaigns via a mobile application.  More than 3,500 completed surveys were directly uploaded to our cloud-based Salesforce CRM system; early analysis bodes well for robust customer data.  (VisionSpring India is also introducing surveys and testing the mobile application for eventual integration into our Salesforce system.) 

Bangladesh, in Partnership with BRAC

VisionSpring Bangladesh and BRAC are executing a renewal of our five-year plan that will lower costs for our end consumers; train an additional 25,000 community health workers; and expand the program into 24 additional districts.  While the strikes in Bangladesh have reduced the number of vision campaigns the women are able to conduct, we expect any loss in sales to be offset by the fact that in July BRAC will begin training additional health workers to sell glasses.


Based on the success of our retail optical shop at our partner hospital in the city of Karnal, we have opened two more shops in surgery centers in Paniput and Pratapapgarh.  Each shop functions as a “hub” with spoke-like outreach to surrounding locales at least 22 days per month via a van outfitted as a mobile optical-shop unit.  By December we expect to have five such units in operation, each selling 750 pairs of glasses per month, with operations breaking even within four months.


VisionSpring’s Global Partnerships channel continues to pursue large-scale opportunities through relationships with NGOs and for-profit businesses (especially those with multiple product lines and solid distribution networks) that both want to incorporate eyeglass sales into their work and can serve our base-of-the-pyramid consumers.  In addition, during Q1, the Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative began selling VisionSpring eyeglasses in Peru, and our Mexico-based partnerships associate continued to identify prospective regional partners.

Other ways to help:

VisionSpring has recently partnered with Charity Miles, a GPS-enabled application for your phone that tracks the number of miles you bike, walk, or run.  For every mile clocked for VisionSpring, Charity Miles donates 25 cents to us.  Hit the streets for VisionSpring today!  Download Charity Miles here: http://www.charitymiles.org/


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Organization Information


Location: New York, NY - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.visionspring.org
Project Leader:
Elizabeth Smith
New York, NY United States

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