Social Franchise Vision Centres

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Social Franchise Vision Centres

Nampula; Beira; Chimoio, Quelimane; Nacala; Lichinga; Pemba; Gurúè; Cuamba Tete, Mozambique
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
$500,000 - $1 million
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Social Franchise Vision Centers revolutionize access to eye care for the poor through a business model that provides low-cost eye care services & spectacles. They provide optometry graduates with employment & ownership opportunities, and scale up service delivery in under-served areas.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

640 million people are unnecessarily blind or vision impaired because they cannot access an eye exam and/or a pair of glasses. In Mozambique estimates are as high as 1.5 million. In Africa, public sector infrastructure is poor & qualified eye care practitioners are scarce: the ratio being 1:500,000 compared to 1:10,000 in developed countries. Mozambique did not have a single optometrists until December 2012 when the first students graduated.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Vision Centers (VCs) are often used to provide eye care services. We propose setting up 10 Social Franchise Vision Centers (SFVCs) in Mozambique, targeting the working poor - a neglected group of people in need - offering quality eye exams & appealing frames, combining access, affordability & aesthetics. Our 3-phase approach provides a financially sustainable & scalable solution. In phase 1, we will establish VCs in Mozambique to fully understand the social franchise model and to optimize our strategy. Through direct & area franchising we will expand throughout Mozambique in phase 2. In phase 3, SFVCs will expand to other African countries such as Malawi and Tanzania.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

SFVCs will be established as a local legal entity. The Institute will found the necessary infrastructure; equip the VCs and put management information systems & the supply chain in place. Graduates from the optometry school at Lurio University will be recruited to manage each VC to address the lack of employment opportunities in the public sector. All employees will receive training to understand the social franchise model. All VC managers will be evaluated every 3 months - well performing managers will be invited to become owners of VC franchises. As the franchises grow, more jobs will be created, impacting access to eye care & the wealth of communities where SEVCs are.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

The Institute works in 13 countries in Africa, training 30,000 eye health workers & teachers; strengthening primary health systems & implementing school eye health programs; 14 VCs were established in Tanzania and we deliver eye health services at 335 locations. We have established optometry programs in 3 countries (& support 5 more institutions) implementing an innovative world first multiple entry & exit model that included training for optometrists and optometry technicians. 400 Graduates are projected over the next 5 years. One VC serves a population of at least 50,000. 10 SFVCs in Mozambique will make eye care services available to half a million people. In year 5 of operations, we envisage a sales volume of 75,000 pairs of glasses, each VC will break even in year 2. Establishing an optical chain will significantly develop optometry in Mozambique, creating more employment.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

The franchise model is sustainable because of 3 factors: economies of scale, operational efficiency & innovative pricing.  Optical products are high margin products, thus margins can be cut without compromising affordability. Our own purchasing & distribution center for consumables operates from China. Fees paid by franchisees cover overhead costs. Through expansion, costs will be further driven down through economies of scale. 

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Public health programs provide free/inexpensive eye care & spectacles but have not reached scale. The private sector caters for those who have adequate resources. Some social enterprises provide reading glasses, but not full eye care services by eye care professionals. In Mozambique 9 NGOs run programs in eye care, reaching approximately 3% of the population. Most private optical shops are based in Maputo and none of them employ a qualified optometrist. Ours is a market-based solution, providing quality eye health outcomes in a low-income context, while remaining financially sustainable.

Founding Story

In 1987 Prof. Kovin Naidoo, former anti-apartheid activist & optometrist, met Prof Brien Holden, an equally passionate & devoted Australian optometrist. Together, with others they formed the International Centre for Eyecare Education (now called Brien Holden Vision Institute) with one simple aim: to eliminate avoidable blindness. At a conference Prof Naidoo was challenged by the NGOs’ apparent inability to reach beyond a specific area. He came to the conclusion that NGO-ownership was creating islands of success in a sea of despair. Taking a leaf from the private sector, he conceptualized the Social Franchise approach to empower people at the bottom of the pyramid to address the critical eye care shortage for millions of people.


There are many children who do not get an education because they cannot see; there are many adults who cannot work because they cannot see. How do we upscale services to provide eye care for those who cannot get access when the best efforts of governments, NGOs and the private sector have failed to reach scale?