Pioneering a New Economic Model to Combat Corneal Blindness

KeraLink International (KLI) is developing a new ecosystem to support sustainable interventions for corneal blindness, which currently denies 12.7 million people in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) their right to sight and threatens the sight of many millions more. Despite being both preventable and curable, corneal blindness remains a scourge in poor areas of the world. It is a persistent example of healthcare inequity around the world.

Traditional philanthropy has long served as a lifeline, but philanthropy alone can’t solve this problem.  At KLI, we act differently. We’re building the new ecosystem needed to support a range of sustainable interventions that collectively will eradicate corneal blindness.

Beyond Philanthropy: The Quest for Sustainable Solutions

Charity is a noble reflection of the human spirit. But for many reasons, philanthropy too often falls short of long-term sustainability and achievement of envisioned goals.

The commercial sector’s keen ability to create low-cost global products and solutions offers an alternative approach.  Unfortunately, commercial enterprises too often focus on profit and return on investment instead of the common good.  They routinely bypass – perhaps as “not profitable enough” – high-volume, affordable, and effective solutions to persistent health care concerns like corneal blindness which disproportionately impact health and prosperity in LMICs.

These extremes of generous compassion and high-profit motivations fail to address the systemic barriers that prevent effective healthcare protocols from reaching the people who need them most in LMICs.

But by fusing them together in our model, we intend to drive economically viable social transformation and eradicate corneal blindness.


Venture Philanthropy:  Economic Viability Meets Social Transformation

KLI’s approach to eradicating corneal blindness brings together the compassion of philanthropy and market-driven innovations and solutions.  

We are discovering, developing, and deploying technologies, products, and programs that are affordable and accessible in LMICs.   We are investing the contributions we receive in new programs and advanced technologies—like biomedically engineered corneal implants. These and other innovations can and will prevent and treat corneal blindness at affordable prices, where it thrives. They will leverage production capabilities to serve the greater good, maximize distribution to the tens of millions suffering corneal injury or infection, and generate income that can be recycled toward further innovation.

Compassionate Capitalism: The Path Forward

KLI has embraced, as a core business strategy, compassionate capitalism. Through collaboration, active engagement, and innovative funding approaches, our model combines the efficiency and scalability of capital markets with the altruism and long-term vision of philanthropy. KLI’s visionary approach will bridge the chasm between profitability and social good. Our work in combating corneal blindness is just the beginning.

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Corneatopia: Eyes on the Future
The evening of November 16, 2024
Maryland Science Center in Baltimore