Envisioning a Clearer and Leaner Future

ISSUE #61 – Poor vision is the most common disability in the world, and with over 1 billion of the world’s 1.7 billion myopes living in Asia, Singapore has for 30 years served as the strategic location for Essilor in capturing opportunities in emerging markets. Since establishing Singapore as its regional hub in 2013, the world’s leading opthalmic optics company has stepped up initiatives that are successfully paving new ways to doing business.



Poor vision has been proven to affect academic performance, road safety, and the propensity of the elderly to fall and injure themselves. With 2.5 billion people living with uncorrected poor vision, the majority of which can be treated with a pair of eyeglasses, the potential socio-economic impact of bringing vision care to the underserved is tremendous.

Essilor’s Base of Pyramid (BoP) Innovation Lab was set up within the Group’s Corporate Mission Department three years ago to drive game-changing innovation to bring vision care to the underserved globally. Supported by the Singapore Economic Development Board, the BoP Lab focuses on five areas:

  • Developing a pipeline of inclusive business models to generate new spectacle wearers at the BoP;
  • Managing a €30 million strategic giving fund;
  • Forging strategic partnerships across the public, private and non-profit sectors;
  • Leading research initiatives; and
  • Offering strategic support such as documenting know-how, best practices and defining entry strategy for new markets.

Given that scaling our impact depends on an ecosystem of stakeholders beyond the optical industry, the BoP Lab is engaging companies in the technology, telecommunications, healthcare, insurance and e-commerce sectors to leverage their distribution networks and customer base to bring vision care to the BoP population.

In June this year, together with Essilor’s R&D department, the BoP Lab launched an open innovation challenge called the See Change Challenge to seek low-cost solutions to accurately measure eye refractive errors. These solutions would speed up the delivery of vision care in underserved regions by enabling more people to be easily trained to become primary eye care workers.


We speed up the delivery of vision care in underserved regions by enabling more people to be trained as eye care workers.



In September 2015, Essilor, launched a lean initiative across its organisation in Singapore. Mr Denis Chng, General Manager, explains, “My clients were telling me that they were satisfied with the quality of our products, but our service could improve. They had trouble reaching our customer service, their orders were not always processed and delivered on time, our invoices to them were not always accurate, etc.”

“So we took one person from each department, and we reviewed together the order process: from the moment our customer sends an order to the moment they receive the lenses. This allowed us to identify where the main areas for improvements (or “kaizens”) were, and to address them. For example:

  • We received a lot of calls from customers wanting to know the status of their orders, because they had no other way to know. So we developed a website that allows them to track their orders. And this only worked thanks to the collaboration of the customer service team, the sales team, and the IT team;
  • Our customer service was overloaded because the agents had to manually enter customer orders in the production system. We managed to automate a significant part of data entry, freeing up time and availability for the team to answer customers’ calls.”

This lean initiative has been a success, and the Singapore initiative has served as reference for other entities of Essilor across the world.


Article by Chen Weiwen, Director, Base Of Pyramid Innovation Lab, Essilor and Pierre-Yves Léonard, SimplifEye Project Manager, Essilor


Article published in the FOCUS Magazine “Principles of Productivity” – Issue #3 2016