Sankara Eye Care Institute

As part of the Tivix commitment to social justice, I serve as a volunteer mentor every year for Santa Clara University's GSBI program. In keeping with the tradition of a great Jesuit university, the program's mission is "accelerating global, innovation-based entrepreneurship in service to humanity". Over the years we've helped 232 social entrepreneurs to launch and scale innovative social enterprises around the world (see graphic below).

This year I was assigned to work with Bharath Balasubramaniam of Sankara Eye Care. Bharath operates 9 vision hospitals in India and hopes to build 11 more. 

The problem which Sankara addresses is very easy to understand: over 1/4 of the world's blind are in India, and over 80% of those cases are preventable or treatable. Of those, most are rural poor. And the economic cost of blindness is huge. 

Sankara has developed a unique cross-subsidy revenue model where they perform for-profit surgeries in urban areas for middle-class patients, and that work subsidizes the free services they provide to the rural poor. The economics of this model gives them 4:1 leverage – each paid surgery pays for 4 additional free surgeries.

Since founding they've performed 1.2 million surgeries with a 98.8% success rate. They've screened 4.6 million children. They are changing lives every day, and doing it with a sustainable economic model (unlike traditional philanthropy). 

Today is the last day of the 2014 GSBI program. I've been proud to work with Bharath and his team over the past four months, and look forward to watching their continued success as they use market-driven principles to help make the world a better place. 

Sankara Eye Care Institute

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