ERC Eye Care

Throughout the summer, discover the projects run by nominees at Convergences 2016 Awards. Energy and environment, employment, health… Discover projects made innovative partnerships that contribute to the objective Exclusion Zero, Zero Carbon, Zero Poverty. The awards ceremony will take place Wednesday, September 7, 2016 at the City Hall of Paris, during the third and the final day of the World Forum Convergences.

Competing for the International Award, the ERC Affordable Eye Care Solutions project aims to provide quality eye care that is affordable and accessible to people from rural and poor communities in India.

Lack of access to eye care: an observation at the origin of the project.

Get an ophthalmologic appointment and a pair of glasses is hard for people living in rural areas in developing countries. They often have to go to the city, which implies costs and the loss of a daily wage. Having to pay the same amount as urban customers involves a cost of 30 € for a basic eye care , which exceeds a lot an average income in most rural families in developing countries. The ERC Affordable Eye Care Solutions project is based in the northeast of India where 86% of the population lives in villages and 40% suffer from visual impairment. Political troubles, poor infrastructure and bad economic situation exacerbate the inaccessibility to eye care to the poorest populations.

A workable solution:

80% of visual impairment can be corrected by glasses or a simple cataract surgery. The challenge lies in providing affordable and accessible quality eye care to people in rural areas.

The accessibility is facilitated by a hub-and-spoke model that allows a territorial base with two hospitals set up in the area and allowing the communities in the surrounding areas to have access to affordable eye care thanks to mobile units and satellite clinics. ERC uses a low-profit business model, ensuring that its services remain affordable. All the services of the mobile unit are free (medicines, tests, consultations), except for the sale of optical products. The glasses, ready for use for a starting price at 2 € and glasses with prescription cost about 3.5€. Complete eye check-ups cost less than € 1 and medical packages for cataract surgery are available from 25 €.

Which impact does the ERC Affordable Eye Care Solutions project have?

ERC Eye Care est le premier fournisseur de soins de santé abordables pour mettre en œuvre le modèle hub-and-spoke dans le Nord- Est de l’Inde, apportant des services de soins oculaires aux communautés jusqu’alors non desservies. Depuis 2011, ERC a traité plus de 82.000 patients. Parce que ce projet s’appuie sur des infrastructures déjà existantes, peu de dépenses en capital sont nécessaires pour le développer dans de nouvelles communautés, ce qui rend le projet très évolutif. Dans le délai initial du projet, ERC a développé deux groupes de traitement de soins oculaires qui ont la capacité de traiter jusqu’à 90.000 patients par an. ERC vise à développer 5 autres groupes au cours des 2 prochaines années. Les femmes sont également formées comme « assistantes de vision »  à temps partiel pour soutenir les unités mobiles et les cliniques satellites. Cela aide à l’autonomisation de ces femmes et crée des relations durables et des liens de confiance entre les clients, ERC et les collectivités desservies.


Project’s partners :

The objective of this partnership is to develop a sustainable and replicable model that can be used to provide high-quality eye care solutions that are affordable and accessible to people living in poor, rural and marginalized unserved or underserved communities. In this overall objective, the main goal of the partnership is to provide technical assistance for institutional strengthening for ERC- Eye Care, a social enterprise dedicated to provide affordable eye care solutions in the states of Northeast India so that it can expand operations and develop across the country. Its aim is to become a sustainable and economically viable social enterprise.

What is the added value of the partnership?

This partnership strengthens the work of agents of ERC and helps to empower them to bring a better service to the communities in which they already operate. That way it allowed the project to be focused on customers and have an immediate impact. Sophia Project, as a partner, presented its framework for institutional strengthening “Social Enterprise Platform Empowerment” (SEEP), and financed technical assistance for implementation. InDev worked directly with ERC to implement part of the SEEP. Sophia Project supports rural health care initiatives that can benefit from the lessons learned through this project. Sophia Project also supports complementary initiatives such as access to finance and micro-insurance, which allow communities to pay for services provided by ERC.