India has the largest number of people with uncorrected vision, with over 500 million people needing vision correction, including 42% of the country’s workforce. A factor contributing to this trend is the lack of availability of qualified human resources especially, in rural areas.
Co-financed by DEG and Essilor Private Limited and implemented by ASSIST, Eye Mitra aimed to provide quality vision correction services at affordable prices for underprivileged rural people in India. The project also facilitated successful candidates to set up small businesses on their own to offer vision care services to rural communities at an affordable price. These micro-entrepreneurs were recognized as Eye Mitra Opticians (EMOs). The project also enabled rural households to access vision care and good quality spectacles (for those who need them) at affordable prices. Thus, the rural youth hitherto unemployed will get her / his livelihood through a more respectable self-employment. With the growth in business, she/he would further employ other rural youth at their own store as supporting hands thereby, creating a replication for self-employment generation in rural areas.
With Eye Mitra, five training centers were set up; 350 youth were skilled and 220 Eye Mitras were qualified; 150 Eye Mitra shops were opened sustaining more than 100 new jobs earning USD 600 per month per EMO; and more than 8000 people’s vision was corrected effectively.