(PRESS RELEASE) CHARENTON-LE-PONT, FRANCE – Essilor announces its selection by the Australian government to be part of its Business Partnership Platform, an aid investment program to generate social and commercial returns in developing countries. The partnership will create affordable vision care for almost 100,000 low-income consumers in rural Bangladesh and train young people to become primary vision care providers known as Eye Mitras.

By launching its flagship inclusive business model, Eye Mitra (friend of the eyes) Essilor and partners will help young people to set up village-based businesses to detect vision problems and dispense affordable eyeglasses. The program will improve the lives of rural Bangladeshis by improving their sight.

Australian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Julia Niblett said, “The Australian government supports private sector engagement in development and is very pleased to partner with Essilor, who will work with local partners to train Eye Mitras to help provide eye care services in rural Bangladesh.”

Essilor’s chief mission officer, Jayanth Bhuvaraghan, said, “We’re delighted to partner with the Australian government to further our common goal of social and economic development in developing countries. Uncorrected poor vision affects one in three people worldwide impacting their ability to learn, work and be safe. At Essilor we are working to eradicate poor vision by raising awareness on the issue and creating access to vision care where it is needed most. We look forward to bringing the immediate benefits of eyeglasses to people in rural Bangladesh.”

Uncorrected poor vision is the world’s most widespread disability and affects 2.5 billion people, 90 percent of whom live in developing countries. Every year $272 billion is wasted in the global economy due to lost productivity as a result of uncorrected poor vision. This impact is felt acutely in rural areas where awareness and access to vision care is often poor.

In partnership with Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Essilor launched the Eye Mitra program in December 2017 with non-profit organization Grameen Kalyan and local training partner MART. Grameen Kalyan will support with the setup of 400 Eye Mitra shops and, where necessary, provide microloans to Eye Mitras as they build their micro-enterprises.

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