New social enterprise Alina Vision is set to advance global eye health equality through a network of more than 60 eye surgery centres in some of the world’s most underserved communities.
The social enterprise is the result of a global collaboration between international development organisation, The Fred Hollows Foundation, leading social entrepreneurs David Green and Ben Midberry, and Japanese pharmaceutical company ROHTO.
Alina Vision will deliver high-quality, accessible and sustainable eye care for people of all income levels, actively reaching out to those excluded from mainstream healthcare systems, particularly low-income people and women.
The first Alina Vision eye care centre is set to open in Vietnam this year, with centres also planned for a range of other countries including India, Indonesia and China.
Centres will be led by outstanding local medical professionals and will treat the main causes of preventable or treatable blindness, in particular cataract. Cataract is the leading cause of avoidable blindness worldwide, affecting more than 25 per cent of those who are blind or vision impaired.
“Most people who are blind or have visual impairment have cataract or lack eye glasses, both of which Alina Vision can easily and affordably treat with high quality results,” said David Green, a co- founder and leading social entrepreneur who has developed many sustainable programs to make eye care accessible to the poor.
“Affordable eye care uses compassion and the tools of capitalism – finance, lean operations, intellectual property, human resource development and training – in a model that is scalable for addressing eye care needs for all members of society. Through the Alina Vision eye care centres we hope to deliver sight to more than 400,000 people each year.”
In the 10 years from 2018 to 2027, the network is projected to deliver a total of more than 1.1 million cataract surgeries, including at least 240,000 for free, as well as more than 2.2 million other procedures and pairs of glasses.
“Today, 36 million people are needlessly blind and in the future we’re facing a global blindness crisis due to the ageing population and rising incidence of chronic diseases. We can shift the tide by blending philanthropy to address barriers to growth and private capital to fund scale,” said Ben Midberry, co-founder and Managing Director of Alina Vision.
Alina Vision is backed by international development organisation, The Fred Hollows Foundation, which as a co-founder and major shareholder, is diversifying its traditional role as a grant funder to become a strategic impact investor.
“Investing in Alina Vision allows The Foundation to increase our coverage, accelerate and increase the momentum of our services and, therefore, reach out to more communities around the world who are underserviced or not serviced at all,” said Kirsten Armstrong, Director of Knowledge & Innovation at The Fred Hollows Foundation.
“Not only does Alina Vision reflect our mission, to end avoidable blindness, but also our strategy and the approach of our co-founder, the late Australian ophthalmologist and humanitarian, Professor Fred Hollows, who challenged traditional wisdom and found ways to make high quality eye care available to people in the poorest parts of the world.”
Internationally-recognised pharmaceutical company ROHTO, is the first private sector investor in the social enterprise.
ROHTO has been distributing over-the-counter eye drops for more than 100 years and its range of products is distributed in more than 110 countries, recently broadening its focus to include cosmetics, food and agriculture, as well as sustainable systems that have a positive impact on society.
“As a leading company in the eye care industry we aim to share the ‘joy of seeing,” said Mr Kunio Yamada, Chairman and CEO of ROHTO Pharmaceutical.
“We have already implemented ophthalmic support in Asia and Africa, however, in reality, curable cataract remains the primary cause of blindness in most countries.
“Alina Vision could significantly expand ‘the affordable eye care model’ with more speed and coverage to eliminate preventable blindness, and we are pleased to extend our support of people in need through this social enterprise.
“Rohto Pharmaceutical wants to get involved with Alina Vision not by making donations, but through investments so that we can participate in the company's development and spread this sustainable business model worldwide to provide high-quality eye-care to everyone.”
It is expected that nine Alina Vision surgery centres will be opened in the next three years, laying the foundation for scaled growth in the second phase of expansion, which will see up to 10 new surgery centres opened annually.
Last year Alina Vision was awarded a Design Funding grant from Convergence to design its global and subsidiary entities. Convergence is the global network for blended finance, generating blended finance data, intelligence, and deal flow to increase private sector investment in developing countries.
The name “Alina” means “bearer of the light”; with origins in ancient Greece, “Alina” has been adopted around in the world by various cultures from Europe to South Asia and reflects the social enterprise’s mission to ensure everyone has equal access to sight.
For more visit: www.AlinaVision.com
Media contact: Nishara Miles, Senior Media Adviser, The Fred Hollows Foundation
Tel: +61 2 8344 1653, Mob: +61 402 445 500, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Fred Hollows Foundation (Co-Founder and major shareholder): The Fred Hollows Foundation is a not-for-profit international development organisation established in Sydney, Australia 25 years ago and is supported by the Australian public, the Australian Government and international funders. It operates in 25 countries around the world and has restored sight to more than two million people. The Fred Hollows Foundation believes in a world where no person is needlessly blind and Indigenous Australians exercise their right to good health. More than 36 million people in the world are blind but four out of five people who are blind don't need to be.
David Green (Executive Director): A social entrepreneur who has been developing the "Affordable Eye-Care Model" for more than 30 years in many areas, especially in India. Mr Green has provided tremendous support for the establishment of the world-famous Aurolab, which has been making affordable intraocular lenses for cataract treatment more affordable by reducing prices from $300 to $2; as well as other eye care products like suture. He has played a key role globally for reducing production costs, lowering margins and helping to adapt an eye care business model that is high-volume and low-cost. Low cost medical consumables like the ones pioneered by Aurolab are an integral part of the "Affordable Eye-Care Model”.
Ben Midberry (Managing Director): Mr Midberry has considerable experience in financing companies that serve low-income communities with profitable social enterprise business models. Prior to co-founding and leading Alina Vision, he was a Vice President at Deutsche Bank's Global Social Finance group, where he led its lending to healthcare organisations and managed the Deutsche Bank Eye Fund I, a social investment fund for eye hospitals using the “Affordable Eye Care Model”.
ROHTO Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. (First private sector investor): Headquartered in Osaka City, ROHTO was founded in 1899 and has been distributing over-the-counter eye drops for more than 100 years. ROHTO’s range of products is available in more than 110 countries and the company has recently broadened its focus to include cosmetics, food and agriculture, as well as sustainable systems that have a positive impact on society. RHOTO’S slogan “Never Say Never” embodies its new challenge to "support society, and maintain global health for the future" which aligns with Alina Vision’s goal of ending avoidable blindness.