Latin America impact investors set sights on social returns
After six weeks at the Aravind Eye Hospital in the Indian city of Madurai, talking to everyone from the janitors to the head of the low-cost eye-care centre, Javier Okhuysen and his partner flew back to Mexico City with a business plan, and opened their pilot eye clinic four months later.
Working to tackle preventable blindness caused by cataracts and chronic diseases such as glaucoma, their company salauno has performed 17,000 cataract operations in the six years since it started, and will soon add an eye hospital to its string of clinics in Mexico.
“Thirty percent of our patients are now coming from Facebook ads (and) 80 percent of them had never seen an ophthalmologist before, so digital media is really helping us to democratise the service,” said Okhuysen, who read about the Aravind hospital in C.K. Prahalad´s book “The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid”.
Salauno´s tiered pricing system – where some patients pay up to $2,000 for high-tech cataract surgery using European lenses – helps subsidise procedures for lower-income patients who might pay $300 for manual operations using lenses from India, explained the former investment banker.