Wazi Vision organizes many eye test camps in hard to reach areas around Uganda. The free services are aimed at those who would not normally be able to afford an eye doctor, but vision problems are common in the country.
And with a cross-subsidization model, those diagnosed with refractive errors get glasses they make, at affordable prices.
Jane Nabbos, a businesswoman, benefited from the service: “Since I have these glasses, I can read. Then I couldn’t because I couldn’t see the small letters but now I can read the bible, I can read everything“.
At the Kampala workshop, the eye clinic is always open because the needs are immense: “We know that as we grow up there is a tendency to read and most people have been cut off from reading due to presbyopia in most cases and we have come across many of these cases.“, explains ophthalmologist Frank Bogere.
When a team of innovators launched Wazi in 2016, they wanted to create accessibility to glasses for marginalized communities.
Designing glasses adapted to African facial features
Using recycled plastic, it is the first company in East Africa to design and manufacture eyewear. They also use other locally available materials such as cow horns, bamboo and scraps of clothing such as jeans. And, they produce custom frames.
It is a source of pride for Geogette Ochieng Ndabukiye, the co-founder of CMO: “The eyeglass frames that people wear are not made for their facial features. They’re designed primarily for European and Asian facial features, so you find when Africans, when Ugandans wear their glasses, over time they start to squeeze them, they start to get marks here, the glasses fall off , but Wazi here in Uganda is the first company to design and manufacture glasses adapted to African facial features“.
The team has now embarked on a range of designer frames for those who can afford them as it expands to other African countries.