Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Reading glasses for the Poor

I was first introduced to the idea of microfranchising when I attended a lecture by Dr. Jordan Kassalow at the Economic Self-Reliance Conference in 2006. Scojo remains one of the leading organizations in developing a turn-key, 'business-in-a-backpack' model.

Scojo delivers reading glasses to the nearly one billion people worldwide who have blurry near vision (presbyopia). From a profile on ChangeMakers: this group of people need reading glasses to see up-close to sustain their livelihoods and maintain their quality of life (reading religious texts, separating stones from rice for daily meal, differentiating seeds types). Millions worldwide lose their livelihoods every year due to a lack of access to this affordable product.

I think some of the particular elements of success for Scojo have been:
1. Partnering and Networks from the parent company Scojo Vision LLC
2. They kept the model simple, selling reading glasses, and simply referred other issues.
3. Offering high incentives to their franchisees
4. Willingness to train others to replicate their system. Thus creating a macro-franchise on top of the microfranchises.
5. Offering multiple products in color, durability, etc. (I think this needs to be adopted by other operations such as selling mosquito nets)
6. Piggybacking on top of the infrastructure of microcredit institutions.

Scojo is in the process of scaling up and allowing more partners to launch their model.

What have been people's experiences with Scojo?

Here are some video clips giving an overview of Scojo and a feature on NBC Nightly News

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