In January, the Financial Times partnered with international charity Sightsavers to launch a business plan challenge to MBA students.
They were asked to form teams to submit ideas for marketing spectacles to young people in one or more emerging markets.
This team comprises students from HEC Paris, Kaist Business School and Coppead.
It wanted to target children living in urban slums in the Indian state of Rajasthan, where a significant migration of the rural population to urban areas is under way.
● Collaborate with Pravah, a local non-governmental organisation, to send young volunteers around the streets of a city in a bus, who would perform a short skit or play that promotes the value of wearing glasses. The volunteers would come from Pravah’s youth programme for promoting social change. They would sometimes include an ophthalmologist who would test children and prescribe glasses.
● Ask Bollywood celebrities – such as Sonam Kapoor, who wears glasses – to feature in videos and posters that promote spectacle use. “Your identity is created not from spectacles but from self-confidence” is a suggested slogan.
● Introduce a “sponsor a friend” programme in which children with low vision can sponsor others in need of glasses by donating a very small sum. In return they would get charms or a new colour frame for their own glasses.
“Our business plan puts forth an innovative idea which involves collaboration with new sets of partners and various stakeholders,” says Rahul Anand, a Team Vision member.
In particular, he believes the use of celebrities would have the most impact. He cites a tourism campaign using actor Amil Khan about not leaving litter on the street. Another one used famous Indian actors to encourage parents to take their children for polio vaccinations.
A team member from Brazil has also seen the use of celebrities work to great effect in the favelas.
The aim of the “sponsor a friend” programme is to build a support network. The goal would be “a self-managed community where children and their families introduce each other and become part of a support structure that meets [regularly]”, says Mr Anand. “During the meetings, they would be educated about eyecare and how to take care of glasses, for example.”
Drawing competitions and arts and crafts activities would help promote a sense of camaraderie between children wearing spectacles, he adds.
Team Vision is one of six MBA Challenge shortlisted teams. The winner will be announced in October.