Microfranchise and eyesight problems
Fundación Paraguaya’s microfranchise in eye-glasses is a unique attempt to reduce sight-related issues among lower-income populations in Paraguay. A kit containing bifocals, regular prescription glasses, sunglasses, accessories, an eye test sheet and a mirror is sold to entrepreneurs from women’s committees, providing them with an innovative business strategy in their area. The Fundación gives these women basic training in oculism needed for the prescription of these glasses.
This microfranchise in glasses enables women to start an original venture that is generally absent and out of reach for the people in these women’s communities. The dual target of this programme is therefore exceptional as women are given diverse business strategies while people with flawed vision in the involved communities are finally being provided with an affordable way to live with their sight problems comfortably.
Fundación Paraguaya is also aiming to reduce sight related issues through the Leapfrog Fund, a partnership with the Aravind Eye Hospital in Madurai, India, and Fundación Visión (Paraguay). The partnership involves exporting technology from the Indian hospital to Fundación Visión, a leader in eye care provision to the poor in Paraguay, targeting issues such as cataracts and Pterigion (carnosity). Fundación Paraguaya’s role is to find the clientele among lower income communities across Paraguay and provide them with micro loans enabling them to access surgeries that could significantly reduce blindness.
The outreach of the programme is being spread through the training of Fundación Paraguaya’s loan officers in detecting vision problems. Using the most advanced Philip’s flashlights, 91 officers have now received theoretical and practical training and are able to conduct consultations among their clients. Throughout the next year, members from the women’s committees will also be trained to detect eye difficulties. To date, 2,138 Paraguayans have been submitted to these eye exams, of which 45 deemed in need of surgery. Micro loans were given to nine clients so far, including four for cataracts surgery, one for a cornea transplant, two for myopia and two for pterygium surgery.
As the programme matures, Fundación Paraguaya is developing a model that will be replicable across Latin America through the production of an informative procedural manual on eliminating preventable blindness.