Reducing avoidable blindness presents excellent value for philanthropic investors interested in blending social and economic returns. In addition to being one of the most “likely to succeed” stories in international development – results are achievable, affordable and measurable – the dominance of private eye care providers, and patients’ willingness to pay some notional amount for services, means that there are also very real prospects for financial returns.
Around the world 39 million people are blind. Around three quarters of these cases are ‘avoidable’ in so far as they can be prevented or treated. The vast majority of cases are situated in low-and middle-income countries and most are women.
The Fred Hollows Foundation occupies a unique position within the eye health sector. In addition to an established history of delivery and excellence, we also have close and ongoing partnerships with service providers, high net worth individuals and organisations such as AVPN. We therefore are well placed to broker, and potentially even intermediate, investments between eye health entrepreneurs and investors.
The Foundation is actively looking to capitalise on the enormous potential of social impact by developing a portfolio of propositions for investments in proven social enterprise models in eye health. These can be contract ready within a few months and deliver returns in as little as 3-4 years.
Mr Chris Ostendorf is Global Lead of Resource Mobilisation.
Dr Lachlan McDonald is Senior Economist.