Imagine if you as a spectacle wearer had to face a reality where people looked down on you because you were wearing glasses.
Even though it is hard to imagine, this is nevertheless the reality in many developing countries where wearing glasses carries a stigma.
For school children with poor eyesight, the outcome is often a poor school performance and frustrating school years. Because even though the problem often could be easily solved by a pair of glasses, the children are not given glasses because it is not socially acceptable. Ultimately, it makes more young people drop out of school because they cannot complete it without having vision correction surgery, but on the other will not wear spectacles, either.
Students shortlisted for the final
A team of MBA students from Aarhus University, Business and Social Sciences, among other places, will now address and solve this problem.
The seven students have prepared a business plan which has impressed the Financial Times to such an extent that they have been shortlisted for the final in the Financial Times MBA Challenge.
Students from AU ready with business plan
As competition finalists, the team will be competing against five other teams from all over the world to design the best business plan for marketing glasses to children and young people in developing countries.
The business plan also aims to break down the cultural barriers currently stigmatising spectacle wearers. The winner will be announced in October.
The team, which comprises students from the USA, Europe and Asia, calls itself RiteSight and has initially decided to focus their business plan on north-east India.
Five members of the seven-strong team are current or former Aarhus University students:
- Dev Bhargava, Sustainable Full Time MBA alumnus, Aarhus University, Business and Social Science, Denmark
- Kathleen Wagner, MSc Innovation Management, Aarhus University, Denmark
- Rajiv Vaid Basaiawmoit, Sustainable Full Time MBA alumnus, Aarhus University, Business and Social Science, Denmark
- Enoch Yeboah Agyepong, Sustainable Full Time MBA alumnus, Aarhus University, Business and Social Science, Denmark
- Anders Laursen, Sustainable Full Time MBA, Aarhus University, Business and Social Science, Denmark
- Aaron Basaiawmoit, Young India Fellowship Programme, an IFRE Initiative in collaboration with UPenn, India
- Ishanie Niyogi, Master of City and Regional Planning, Rutgers State University of New Jersey, USA
Board and computer games to pave the way
In their efforts to change attitudes to glasses among Indians, the team has decided to focus on a special computer game where all participants must wear glasses.
- India has a caste system ... The only time people don't think about their strata is when they are playing games, says Rajiv Vaid Basaiawmoit, spokesperson for the RiteSight team.
A board version of the game will be developed for schools with no access to computers. The goal is that the special glasses which you have to wear to play the game will help increase the players' empathy with spectacle wearers.
- A game is something that brings everyone together - creating a level playing field that breaks boundaries, says Rajiv Vaid Basaiawmoit.
In addition to the special games, the team will also introduce a wide range of designer glasses to help challenge the taboo of wearing glasses. To this end, the award-winning Canadian designer Ramak Radmard has lent the team a hand.
And, finally, designs should be made available with plain glass so people with good eyesight can wear them as fashion items or for solidarity, like friendship bracelets.