Providing Vision for a Nation


Alfred Poon


029. VFAN - Eye tests amd training

Vision for a Nation, (VFAN) a UK-registered charity that supports national health ministries to build sustainable nationwide access to eye care and affordable glasses in low-income countries, is looking to scale its operations to parts of sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, and is currently in early talks with a national government in Asia about launching the second Vision for a Nation initiative.James reading

VFAN was founded by James Chen, who “dreamt of having the opportunity to do something that would change the world and then found this world-changing idea: adjustable glasses.” Since 2011, in Rwanda, the foundation has worked with the health ministry to successfully develop a three-day training course for nurses; train 1,500 nurses to offer vision assessments and dispense glasses through the network of health centres; and conduct more than 110,000 vision assessments, provide 15,000 glasses and refer an equal number for specialist treatment. VFAN’s aim is to provide glasses to an estimated 300,000-500,000 people and refer all people with more complex needs to hospital-level specialists. It is supporting Rwanda’s Ministry of Health to realise these objectives.

The foundation aims to achieve greater impact and scale by working on the principles of:

a) Government ownership: happy to let governments build their own primary eye care service

b) National scale: establishing a service that is universally accessible to everyone in Rwanda

c) Sustainability: primary eye care being set up as an integrated part of Rwanda’s healthcare system. It is institutionalised within the Ministry’s policies, planning, supply chain and service delivery. The revenue from affordable glasses is used to improve hospital-level eye care

d) Raising awareness: delivering an awareness campaign to promote eye health

e) Innovation: using cutting-edge technologies such as adjustable glasses that instantly change focus at the turn of a dial

f) Business principles: applying business principles enhances the programme’s efficiency and chances of success

Now VFAN plans to conduct subsequent national plans in other countries and support them to deliver nationwide access to primary eye care and affordable glasses. However, the interests of the national governments need to be aligned with that of the organisation in order for the programme to work. Further, “to be effective [in another country] there needs to be the political will as well as the infrastructure,” according to James. It is a something that governments in this part of the world ought to bear in mind.

052. VFAN - Vestige Uwizeyimana (Beneficiary)

James Chen is an AVPN member through his family office, Retail Solutions.


A. Environmental Stewardship
To protect the environment, we organize programmes like mangrove nursery and Reforestation, Coastal and River Clean-Up, Community Based Environmental Solid Waste Management, Environmental IEC Campaign and Eco-Academy

B. Food Security and Sustainable Livelihood
To ensure a sustainable livelihood for the community, eco-tourism include Buhatan River Cruise Visitor Center Buhatan River Mangrove Boardwalk are run by the community. Others include Organic Vegetable and Root crops Farming, Vegetable and Root crops Chips and by-products Processing and establishing a Zero waste store.

C. Empowered Communities
To empower the community, we provide product and Agri-Enterprise Development Training, Immersion and Learnings Exchange Program, Earth Warrior Training and Community Based Social Entrepreneurship Training


Alfred Poon

Secretary General

Alfred Poon is Director of Digital Transformation of AVPN. He is a geek by nature, adman by passion, and holds a Masters in Nonprofit Communications from Indiana University. Alfred spends his time building communications infrastructure that brings people together. Prior to joining AVPN, Alfred has consulted for Social Purpose Organisations in over thirty countries, bringing his unconventional mix of nimble technology to enable data driven communications

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