Seeing is Believing

The health of a community greatly impacts the quality of life for individuals and their ability to take up employment opportunities.

Seeing is Believing (SiB) is our global programme to tackle avoidable blindness and visual impairment. In 2015, we raised $7 million through fundraising and Bank matching. From 2003 to 2015, we raised $86.3 million and supported 101 projects across 29 countries. These projects have delivered medical interventions, supported health education and improved access to eye-care for more than 111 million people.

Our global Seeing is Believing programme is a partnership between Standard Chartered and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) to tackle avoidable blindness, and has committed to raise $100 million by 2020 for the programme through fundraising and bank matching. It is an excellent example of a public-private partnership between Government, a non-profit organisation (NGO) and a corporate sponsor, allowing each of us to collectively harness our capability to deliver a real benefit to the community.

India Impact

Seeing is Believing in India has impacted the lives of millions of people by providing over 12 million cost-effective interventions in eye-care to some of the poorest communities through the 92 Vision Centres (VCs) across 11 states, from 2003 to 2015.

Avoidable blindness is a key health issue across the Bank’s footprint which diminishes the quality of life of individuals and negatively impacts economic growth. Worldwide, 285 million people are visually impaired; of these, 39 million people are blind and 246 million people have low vision.1 Over 12 million people in India are blind, it accounts for one out of every three blind people in the world. 80 per cent of blindness in India is because of cataract (62.6 per cent) and uncorrected refractive errors (19.70 per cent).

Seeing is Believing involves a comprehensive eye-care framework, which has been developed through years of extensive research and draws on our credible implementing partners’ international expertise and experience such as International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), Sight Savers, LVPEI, Dr. Shroff’s Charity Eye Hospital, Aravind Eye Institute, Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), Seva Foundation and many more. It allows individuals across the community to gain access to affordable eye-care services, such as vision screening, refraction, provision of spectacles and onward referrals to tertiary care hospitals for more complicated conditions. We have trained and employed thousands of people from the communities as Optometrists, Vision Technicians and Health Workers across our projects in India. Standard Chartered’s SiB programme is one of the pioneers in launching the Vision Centre model in India which can be replicated and scaled-up.

Key highlights of 2015 are summarised as follows:

  • Kolkata Urban Comprehensive Eye-care Programme (KUCEP): The five-year KUCEP concluded in 2015. Implemented by Sightsavers India, our SiB programme in Kolkata, addressed avoidable blindness among the two million indigent people in the city, especially among vulnerable women and children through a holistic approach that addresses eye health with other issues such as hygiene, sanitation, maternal and child health, in alignment to Vision 2020 and Global Action Plan (GAP). 11 of the project’s 14 vision centres are self-sustaining and are running at a profit, 3 VCs have been established in the municipality premises making this programme highly scalable in any geography.

  • SiB-Client Partnership: The resounding success of our programme is echoed by SiB’s first historic agreement with a long-standing Private Bank client named ‘Brij Health Care & Research Centre-Dr. Shroff’s Eye-Care Institute’ in Vrindavan, Mathura. Staffed by doctors and technicians trained from across some of the best institutes in India and backed by state of the art technology, the institute has provided over 69,000 interventions in Mathura since 2014. With sustainability firmly embedded at its core, we expect a full-fledged cross subsidisation model to be in operation by the fifth year. The BHRC-Shroff’s centre also serves as a ground for developing skill among young underprivileged girls.

  • Skill Development: In our effort to create social parity, and in collaboration with Dr. Shroff’s Charity Eye Hospital, our eminent SiB implementing partner, the SiB skill development initiative aims at creating an empowered cadre of young women as mid-level ophthalmic personnel by giving them livelihood training and strengthening ophthalmic services delivery. This will help us create a steady pipeline of qualified women eye-care professionals for our vision centres and hospitals in rural and semi-urban areas. The two-year Certified Ophthalmic Paramedics (COP) is a unique amalgamation of knowledge in eye-care and personality development sessions on life skills, English sessions and exposure to computers. Classroom education and life skills training is delivered at the Dr. Shroff’s Charity Eye Hospital in Delhi, after four months the girls receive practical on-the-job training at BHRC-Shroff’s Institute in Vrindavan. 150 underprivileged girls will graduate in 2016 after having completed the two-year COP programme, and will be set on the path to becoming financially independent.
    • In 2016, we announced fresh investment of $1.6 million to expand and innovate SiB in India.
    • Innovation in eye-care: To foster development of new ideas with the potential for significant impact on the way eye health is delivered in India, $600,000 grant has been awarded to four projects in the following two categories: back the development of innovations at initial pilot stage and support innovations that have undergone some initial testing and are looking to prepare themselves for scale-up. The Innovation Fund projects in India will focus on developing low cost superior technology to treat cataracts; On- the- go technology to make prescriptions easy; using digital devices to read books in India and lastly turning a smart phone into an eye testing device.

    • SCALE: Our new $1 million alliance with Seva Foundation reaffirms our commitment to strengthen and improve the quality of eye-care services in India. The project titled SCALE (Strengthening Capacity And Learning to Effectively deliver quality eye-care) will address the largest cause of blindness - cataracts. India’s current cataract surgical rate (CSR) - a proxy indicator for coverage of eye-care - is approximately 5,000 cataract surgeries per 1 million people. In order to eliminate avoidable blindness the CSR needs to increase to 9,000. A network of six reputable mentor hospitals named Aravind Eye-Care System, Dr. Shroff’s Charity Eye Hospital, PBMA’s H.V. Desai Eye Hospital, LV Prasad Eye Institute, Sadguru Netra Chikitsalaya, and Vivekananda Mission Asram Netra Niramay Niketan will work with 50 partner hospitals to build their capacity through training, coaching, demand generation and systems strengthening to enable them to deliver comprehensive quality eye-care services. SCALE will allow increased access to primary eye-care and referrals, resulting in a 50 per cent rise in cataract surgeries across the partner hospitals. SCALE will also undertake documentation of preferred practices and advocacy for government regulations and policies that promote service improvements, specifically utilisation of IHMS (Integrated Hospital Management System) and increased equity and access related to gender. Adding significant breadth to our SiB footprint in India, 20 new primary eye-care vision centres will be established across 15 states under SCALE from 2016 to 2019.

To sum it up, the influence of Seeing is Believing programme is vested in the fact that 70 per cent of funds for Seeing is Believing are raised by staff, signifying the deep Bank-wide involvement in the programme. In 2015, 3,800 volunteers from Standard Chartered in India participated in various activities including screening, awareness raising, counselling and advising on socialmarketing strategies.

Visit our global Seeing is Believing website »

Water Sanitation Hygiene Education (WASHE)

WASHE (Water Sanitation Hygiene Education) is India’s flagship community investment programme which targets the girl child in municipal schools and aims to provide them with easy access to safe water and improved toilet facilities as well as hygiene education. From 2011 to 2015, WASHE has impacted the life and education outcome of over 60,000 girls and increased knowledgeand influenced a change in attitude of 250,000 family members towards issues surrounding the needs of a girl child.

WASHE dovetails with the mission of India’s Swachh Bharat (Clean India) Mission, and the Sustainable Development Goal 6, which expands the Millennium Development Goal’s focus on drinking water and basic sanitation announced in 2015.

Find out more about our WASHE programme in India »


Goal is our global education programme for adolescent girls and young women that uses sports and life-skills training to equip girls with the confidence, knowledge and skills they need to be leaders in their communities.

Goal operates in 25 countries. In 2015, we reached over 71,200 girls globally and over 10,000 girls in India. From 2006 to 2015, we helped to empower 217,000 girls globally and over 26,000 girls in India and 100,000 family members across Goal sites in Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai.

Across our markets, many girls and women lack access to employment opportunities, affecting the economy and society. If countries around the world could achieve gender parity, global annual GDP could increase by as much as $12 trillion by 2025. To deepen the impact of the programme, in 2015 we piloted work skills readiness initiatives such as English language teaching, digital literacy and employability skills in Delhi to bridge the gap for girls between leaving school and starting work. We trained 110 girls on private-sector employability skills in India.

From 2006 to 2015, a total of 127 girls secured paid jobs including 34 girls from the employability pilot. The companies which hired Goal participants range from trading companies to jewellers and nature of jobs vary from tele-calling to retail positions, sales and hospitality. Through these successes, and feedback from girls, we have learned valuable lessons to help us refine our approach. For example, girls need more opportunities to learn about the career paths available to them; many were not aware of their options, or their aspirations did not match entry-level roles available.

Read about our global Goal programme »

Employee Volunteering

We encourage our employees and their families to share their skills to support the successful delivery of our programmes, and to contribute to their communities. Every employee is entitled to three days of paid volunteering leave annually. To support the adoption of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in 2015 we launched an internal campaign encouraging our employees to volunteer and support the SDG that matters the most to them.

There is a significant level of employee volunteering (EV) time given to both: the Bank’s strategic community initiatives and volunteering opportunities that resonate with employees personally, such as mentoring in local schools or charities, adopting orphanages or looking at the needs of tribal communities. It was recognised that the proportion of high-quality skills-based EV continued to increase.

In 2015, 57 per cent of employees volunteered, contributing to a total of 77,900 volunteering days. India clocked 16,840 employee-volunteering days, making it the top contributor to the Group’s employee volunteering achievement in 2015.

Find out more about our employee volunteering around the Bank »

Financial education

Our financial education programmes use employee volunteering to build the financial capability of youth and entrepreneurs. Working with schools and communities, our Financial Education for Youth programme reached more than 103,600 young people across 24 markets in 2015.

In India, we have reached over 4,700 youth in 2015, 65 per cent of who were girls. Fostering a financially literate youth force, in 2013 India launched a unique initiative to take basics of banking to the visually impaired youth and children by creating Braille Financial Literacy Packs. The key focus is providing visually impaired youth with basic and advanced knowledge on banking, preparing them for interviews and providing exposure to the outside world. The programme now runs in three states in India.

Download the 2016 India Sustainability Review to read more »