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Scojo Foundation: Winner's Statement

Social Capitalists

Scojo Foundation

History And Mission

Scojo Foundation was founded in 2001 to broaden global access to affordable reading glasses. Scojo creates sustainable, local solutions to the problem of distributing reading glasses to the millions of people around the world who have blurry near vision ("presbyopia") and who need a simple pair of magnifying glasses to see objects up-close.

The Problem

Presbyopia occurs naturally in all people and progressively worsens with age. The condition can easily be corrected with simple magnifying "reading" glasses. Left untreated, presbyopia can impede economic productivity and diminish quality of life. Individuals whose livelihoods depend on clear up-close vision such as tailors, bookkeepers, or mechanics become unable to work after they reach a certain age and they lose their ability to earn an income. People's quality of life suffers too as they become unable to sew, cook, or read newspapers, literature or religious texts.

In the West, low-cost reading glasses are conveniently sold in pharmacies and supermarkets without a prescription. In the developing world, however, readymade reading glasses are neither accessible nor affordable to the majority of the population. People living in rural areas are rarely able to access urban optical shops and hospitals where glasses are available. Even when they can access them, the price of the exam, frames, and lenses is often prohibitive to the poorest citizens.

The Need

Presbyopia affects 95% of the population aged 35 or older. Nearly 1.6 billion people living in the developing world need reading glasses. Yet less than 5% of people in those countries currently have access to reading glasses they can afford.

Scojo's Solution

Scojo Foundation has developed a sustainable model to distribute good quality, low-cost reading glasses through specially trained micro-entrepreneurs. In partnership with local organizations, Scojo identifies and trains local women "Vision Advisors" to screen people for presbyopia, sell readymade reading glasses, and identify patients in need of further eye care services. Scojo provides the Vision Advisors with reading glasses and the materials they need to start their businesses. This model combines the best of the business and non-profit worlds by allowing the Vision Advisors to earn a substantial profit for themselves and their families while providing a public health necessity to their communities.

Project Goals

Scojo Foundation aims to:

  • Increase the number of people with access to affordable reading glasses.
  • Create jobs for local entrepreneurs.
  • Facilitate access to comprehensive eye care services.

Activities

Scojo Foundation undertakes the following activities:

  • Develop markets for reading glasses at the base of the economic pyramid.
  • Select, train, equip, and fund local women to establish new businesses selling reading glasses.
  • Provide high-quality, affordable reading glasses for our programs.
  • Bring reading glasses and referral services directly to the customer at the village level.
  • Conduct innovative and locally relevant social marketing campaigns to raise awareness about presbyopia.

Impact

Scojo Foundation's program model benefits our Vision Advisers as well as their clients and communities. For each of these groups Scojo's programs help to:

Vision Advisers

  • Create job opportunities for women.
  • Increase income which they can use to feed, educate, and provide vital health care for their children.
  • Teach business skills which they can use to strengthen their new enterprises.

Clients

  • Double the working life of people whose livelihoods depend on clear up-close vision (e.g. tailors, weavers, mechanics, etc.).
  • Improve quality of life as people regain their ability to sew, cook, and read newspapers, literature, or religious texts.
  • Educate about visual health and prevention.
  • Facilitate referrals to more advanced eye care services.

Communities

  • Stimulate economic development.
  • Create awareness of the importance of visual health.
  • Ease the burden on overstretched health care systems by treating those with presbyopia so that eye doctors are free to concentrate on patients requiring more attention.

Scojo Foundation Philosophy

At Scojo Foundation we believe in creating sustainable, scalable, and replicable programs in order to make the greatest impact on people's lives. We only partner with institutions that share our commitment to creating sustainable programs and our vision of a better tomorrow. We strive for excellence and acknowledge that the only way to achieve it is by having employees, partners, program participants and friends that realize our passions and aspire to improve the lives of others.

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The above information was provided by the profiled organization.