In January, the FT partnered with the international charity Sightsavers to launch a business plan challenge to MBA students.
They were asked to form teams and submit ideas for marketing spectacles to young people in one or more emerging markets.
The RiteSight proposal: This team comprised students from Aarhus University School of Business and Social Sciences, Sri Aurobindo Society Campus and Rutgers Business School.
It wanted to change attitudes to wearing spectacles among people in north-east India.
● Create computer games in which all players must wear glasses in order to be able to read the screen. A board version of the game for schools with no access to computers would also be developed.
● Introduce a certification scheme in which parents and teachers who promote spectacle use are called “ambassadors” and are awarded certificates and gift vouchers.
● Design glasses that allow greater choice of style and the potential to use them as a fashion item. For example, they would come in styles or colours that can be adapted or bought and exchanged easily in a similar way to mobile phone covers.
● Make designs available with plain glass so people with good eyesight can wear them as fashion items or for solidarity, like friendship bracelets.
The background: “India has a caste system … The only time people don’t think about their strata is when they are playing games,” says Rajiv Vaid Basaiawmoit, one of the RiteSight team. “A game is something that brings everyone together – creating a level playing field that breaks boundaries.”
Having to wear glasses to play the game, he adds, may increase the players’ empathy with spectacles-wearers.
Once the games gain popularity, the team believes the modular design of the glasses will come to the fore with children becoming keen to buy and share them. “We interviewed one girl whose eyes lit up when we told her about glasses that had lots of different colours to choose from,” says Mr Vaid Basaiawmoit. “Choice is something we all really love to have.”
The certification scheme would be essential for building a network of supporters among parents, teachers and doctors as well as children. “We really want to encourage people to help – everyone knows how much their own parents have influenced their own decision making process,” adds Kathleen Wagner, another team member. “If parents believe their daughter won’t get married because she wears glasses, for example, the daughter won’t wear them.”
RiteSight is one of six MBA Challenge shortlisted teams. The winner will be announced in October
‘The Careerist’ column will appear in Tuesday’s edition of the FT