Entrepreneurship: Creating Positive Impact While Making Money
I was first inspired by the power of entrepreneurship when I heard about the story of how a doctor and an entrepreneur came together to make eye cataract surgery affordable for the poor in India.
PREVENTING MILLIONS FROM GOING BLIND
In the 1970s, eye cataract surgery was expensive, but was widespread and many of the poor in India would never be able to afford it. It was devastating to them because they would eventually go blind without surgery, and would lose their livelihood.
An ophthalmologist, Dr.Govindappa Venkataswamy, started a hospital that operates at such efficiency that they were able to heavily subsidize the cost of those who can’t afford it from the money earned from those who are able to. An average surgeon in the hospital performs 2,000 surgeries per year while the average in the United States per surgeon was only 125.
It was this efficiency and volume that allowed such a hybrid business model to succeed.
LOWERING MARGINS, INCREASING VOLUME
After 15 years, when the costs of intraocular lenses required for the surgery risen dramatically and threatened the viability of such a business model, he partnered with American entrepreneur David Green to start Aurolab, which manufactures almost 1.8 million pieces of such lenses on-site for a price as low as $2, much lower than the market rate.
Through their efforts, their venture was able to prevent numerous poor people in India from going blind and losing their livelihoods. They were able to do so by innovating on the way they performed the surgeries & manufacturing the lenses, in the process increasing its efficiency, lowering its costs and lowering their profit margin tremendously.
However, though their profit margin is low, they were able to sustain the business and expand it because the volume of surgeries and lenses they could sell was so high due to such a low price.
THE POWER OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP
This amazed me because I saw how we could impact the world in a significant & sustainable way while making money through entrepreneurship.
It was a win-win situation.
MONEY – A POWERFUL AMPLIFIER
This got me thinking, and I realized that money is not evil, it is just a very powerful tool.
It is an amplifier, in the hands of the evil, it can be used to do a tremendous amount of evil, in the hands of the good, it can be used to do a tremendous amount of good, as in such instances.
It is the greed and love of money, that is evil, that causes us to lose our direction, values and ethics, not money itself. Money, coupled with the spirit of entrepreneurship, innovation, and business acumen, is what drives society forward, and help make the world a better place in a sustainable manner.
CREATING SUSTAINABLE VALUE
Air Asia was able to make air travel affordable to most people by innovating on its business model, Facebook was able to connect us better, Google was able to organize the world’s information in a accessible manner, while kick-starting other innovations such as self-driving cars and internet access for underdeveloped areas via high altitude balloons.
All these innovations would not have been able to take off or be sustainable if not for the entrepreneurial ecosystem and spirit, which is always looking for viable and sustainable ways to make the world a better place.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
Hence, as I learnt more about entrepreneurship, I became convinced that entrepreneurship was the best way to go to make a lasting difference in the world, or as Steve Jobs would say, to leave a dent in the universe, because unlike charities and NGOs, it can keep funding itself to keep it sustainable.
Furthermore, it is also a good way to attain the financial & economic influence required to funds initiatives and charities which entrepreneurship has yet to find an entrepreneurial solution to.
This is why I have decided to embark on an entrepreneurial journey of my own, in hopes of bringing talented people together to create something that could make a lasting positive impact on the world.
“The ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who usually do”