As the global economy almost came to a collapse over the debate about the right to public health care insurance in the United States. I thought it would be an interesting moment to share the story of a successful for-profit business model to provide affordable health care services to underserved BoP communities in South Africa. Unjani Clinics, which means “How are you?” in Zulu are a sustainable fee for service based business model that provide basic health services such as basic eye care in refurbished containers operated as franchises by certified nurse practioners. It is a model that has gained steam and expanded from three to seven clinics in the last year. Those looking to figure out better ways to better serve the BoP with healthcare services should take noticed.
As Google Glass is soon to be released and will perhaps be the hot new thing for 2013, today I would like to profile a creative social business also providing an innovative business solution using eyeglasses. VisionSpring has been operating for more than a decade to provide eyeglasses and job opportunities to people without prior access at the base of the economic pyramid in Bangladesh, El Salvador, India and South Africa. It has used an innovative human centered affordable product and delivery design model built in partnership with IDEO to sell eyeglasses to more than one million people to date. Its business model has been proven to provide productivity benefits to its customers and it has been featured in the New York Times and recently won a large grant from USAID’s Development Innovation Ventures fund.
A few months ago I had lunch with a few friends at a former classmates new franchise restaurant; Triple O’s in Singapore. The purpose of the lunch – besides eating some delicious burgers – was to meet a visiting entrepreneur from South Africa who was staying with another friend via the couchsurfing community. I was feeling tired that day and almost didn’t make it. But I am glad I did because I got to learn about a wonderful new venture based in Cape Town, South Africa called TrashBack.