Compiled by: Kartikey Srivastava and Perzen Patel
This week on our roundup we feature the work of a social focussed venture a social enterprise which aims to ensure the availability of equitable and affordable eyeglasses to every individual in the world. We also discuss the launch of the world’s first Impact Exchange, share an interview with the man that founded the term ‘Bottom of the Pyramid’ and showcase innovations created in rural India.
In this interview with Social Story, Founder of Vision Spring – Jordan Kassalow shares his vision to ensure the availability of equitable and affordable eyeglasses to every individual in the world.
He experienced the defining moment of his life when he was looking into the eyes of a 7 year old blind boy. To Jordan’s surprise, he found during the checkup that the boy was not blind. He needed high power eyeglasses. Just by putting a pair of donated eyeglasses on the boy’s eye, he had given the vision of world, and of life at large, to a so-called blind boy.
Today, VisionSpring has a presence in about 25 countries across Asia, Africa and Latin America, with 100 staff members and more than 10,000 vision entrepreneurs.
This past June marked a definite jump in promise in the world of impact investment. The world’s first Impact Exchange was launched by IIX at the Impact Forum, in partnership with the Mauritius Stock Exchange.
Operating with the philosophy of ‘Inclusion by creating capital for all’, the Impact Investment exchange will issue stocks, bonds and funds that will invest in social enterprises. For institutions and investors, the Exchange offers ease of access to social enterprises and liquidity in the form of easy exits and it opens up the market to individual investors.
Social Enterprises benefit by having access to capital in large amounts at lower costs, and a diversified shareholder base. This helps them maintain their mission of creating social good, in an environment that provides institutional support and transparency.
The BoP is a commonly used term now but it was only in the late 90′s that this term was coined by the late C.K. Prahalad and Stuart Hart. Their idea, which says that the poor present a vast untapped business opportunity, and if companies serve the poor, they can help eradicate poverty and also make a profit, revolutionized business thinking.
Hart, one of the two proponents of the idea is now a professor at the Johnson School of Management at Cornell University and stands by the original concept. However, he believes that the idea of BOP needs to evolve to something he calls BOP 2.0. Companies need to involve local communities in co-creation so that they create more innovative, relevant, sustainable—and lasting—products and solutions.
In Hart’s words, “BOP 1.0 typically takes our mental models, our categories and transposes them to the base in a cheap form, affordable form. BOP 2.0 thinking begins with the premise that taking the product categories from the ‘Top of the Pyramid’ and transposing them down probably will fail, that you really need to think about new categories, it’s a way to generate new categories.”
As rural India is emerging as a promising market, big businesses are taking market research to the hinterlands, and co-creating products for – and with – villagers. However, the strategy of creating business with India’s poor, who have fewer resources, and who are extremely value conscious, should have a different set of priorities.
This editorial urges that a ‘whole solution’ for the market is needed. That is, while creating a product or service which serves the need of the people is one aspect, it is also important to look at the distribution, training and in-built culture of the communities the innovation serves.
An example is Sarvajal which provides clean, affordable water to thousands of people in Indian villages. The cost is 50 paise per litre which is approximately $0.008. They used technology to great effect, they introduced a smartcard system which can be topped up to collect water. This is similar to topping up mobile phones.
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