Drishti, a social enterprise providing eye care to underserved populations, today announced that it has raised its first round of funding from Lok Capital, one of the largest dedicated funds in India for businesses focused on serving the BOP (bottom of the pyramid). This is Lok Capital’s first investment in the healthcare segment.
Drishti will use the funds to service underserved geographies of Karnataka with their 3 tier hub and spoke model using outreach programs for villages, telemedicine supported vision centres at small towns for primary eye care and advanced eye facilities and surgical care at their hospital.
While 80% of people above 50 years require some form of eye care, India has little to no providers of eye care in semi-urban or rural areas where the bulk of its population lives. An estimated 12 million people in India are blind, 80% of which is avoidable blindness from cataract, solvable by a simple surgery. Drishti reaches these areas using innovative vision centers setup at existing general physician facilities in small towns and serviced over tele-medicine from its hospital. Services are priced to support all economic segments especially the BOP and include support for social insurance schemes from the government.
Speaking on the investment, Mr Kiran Anandampillai, founder, Drishti, said, “Right now, quality eye care is an imperative in smaller towns and villages, where several people lose sight owing to inadequate treatment. We need to address this across all strata of the socio economic pyramid, but the poor need more attention in terms of access, cost and other critical considerations like loss of livelihood. This is what Drishti aims to do. We reached out to social impact investors via the Ennovent Impact circle and welcome Lok’s investment as an endorsement of our social goals. The funds will help us reach out to more people in these areas”.
Speaking on the investment, Mr Vishal Mehta, Co-founder, Lok Advisory Services, said, “When it comes to BoP, healthcare is an area which needs immediate intervention, not only in providing affordable treatment, but in providing access to quality facilities. Drishti combines geographic access for such underserved population along with low cost options to the poor. Drishti’s operating model ensures that there is mimimum dependency on asset creation (such as setting up clinics) or manning them with trained opthalmologists, while taking eye care to thousands of people in smaller towns and villages. Kiran’s background as a successful entrepreneur, combined with his social motivation to build an enterprise that provides a vital service to BoP, fit extremely well with Lok Capital’s mandate of promoting impact through inclusive businesses.
Lok Capital, with a corpus of USD $85 million, had earlier invested in enterprises focused on livelihood generation and rural education like Rural Shores, a BPO focused on rural employment and Hippocampus Learning Centre, a rural education initiative. Lok Capital has also funded Vistaar, a small enterprise financing company as well as other financial inclusion players like Ujjivan and IFMR Rural Channels.