Blog
18 September, 2018

Apt pupils: Convergence grantee Alina Vision provides eye tests for 1,100 students in Vietnam

Apt pupils: Convergence grantee Alina Vision provides eye tests for 1,100 students in Vietnam

Recently our grantee Alina Vision, along with Fred Hollows Foundation and Standard Chartered Bank Vietnam, provided free eye examinations for more than 1,100 school students in Vietnam.

The World Health Organization estimates that 253 million people live with vision impairment, 80% of which can be prevented or cured. More than 90% of the world’s visually impaired live in developing countries.

Eye screening Vietnam 2

Alina Vision’s mission is to ensure everyone has equal access to sight, by making world-class eye care available to all, regardless of their ability to pay.

Over the next 10 years, Alina Vision will develop a global network of 30 eye care hospitals that provide affordable, high-quality, sight-saving cataract surgery and eye care to low-income communities. Together, these hospitals are expected to provide at least 400,000 sight-saving surgeries per year.

Alina Vision is a powerful example of how a blended finance enterprise can lead to real world impact. Loss of eyesight has a tremendous negative economic and social impact on low-income families, often reducing or eliminating the ability of at least one family member to earn an income. Bringing affordable eye care to the poorest people worldwide is a critical development need.

Eye screening Vietnam 4

What got our attention was Alina Vision’s approach to scaling up the provision of affordable eye care. They draw on the strategies that helped propagate the microfinance sector, where a global network of subsidiaries is set up with standardized operations and governance.

In this way, Alina Vision demonstrates an elegant and replicable blended finance strategy, where modest grants support new market adaptation and initial start-up expenses, equity supports early operations and capital expenditures, and debt supports scale-up. Public and philanthropic funds de-risk startup hospitals to attract socially-minded investors and eventually private capital. Convergence’s Design Funding program supported the design of the global and subsideiary entities.

Eye screening Vietnam 3

Alina Vision aims to raise more than USD 300 million in capital over the next 10 years, blending grants, equity and debt. They’ve already received financial backing from both the Fred Hollows Foundation and Japanese pharmaceutical company ROHTO.

For many of the students, this was their first eye exam. Regular eye screening is the first step to improving quality of eye care and preventing avoidable blindness. By the end of the year, Alina Vision plans to open the first of its network of eye surgery centres in Vietnam.

About the Author
Sijia Yi

As the Communications Lead, Sijia heads communications strategy and implementation at Convergence. Sijia brings with her over five years of communications expertise in media relations, digital media management, and strategy development. Prior to joining Convergence, Sijia was a Communications Officer at the United Nations University (UNU) in Bonn, Germany. At UNU she explored new ways to tell stories about climate change. She also oversaw international media relations and placed UNU in high impact outlets around the world, including the New York Times, BBC, and Reuters. Sijia has also served in a communications capacity at Fairtrade International and McGill University. Sijia holds a B.A. in Psychology from McGill University and an M.A. in Digital Media and Business Communication from Tilburg University in the Netherlands.

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