Thursday, November 28, 2019

Helpmesee Gets $25,000 Grant from Goldmamn Sachs to Help Address Cataract Blindness in India

HelpMeSee, an international nonprofit focused on eliminating cataract-caused blindness and vision impairment, will receive a India-targeted $25,000 grant from Goldman Sachs, a leading global investment bank and active investor in India.  The funding comes as a result of the Goldman Sachs India team securing a grant through the annual, global Goldman Sachs Gives Analyst Impact Fund competition.  Goldman Sachs Gives is a donor-advised fund through which Goldman Sachs and its current and retired senior employees provide grants to qualifying non-profit organizations globally. The grant will be used to provide cost-effective cataract surgery training for eye surgeons in India.

According to World Health Organisation, approximately 2.2 billion people globally are visually impaired or are affected by blindness worldwide. The leading cause of this global health crisis are uncorrected refractive errors and cataracts, which are treatable 80 percent of the time.  This holds true in India too, which has the largest population of blind people in the world and over 20 million people who are blind due to cataracts.  According to the National Blindness and Visual Impairment Survey India from 2015 - 2019, cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in people above 50 years of age. In that age group, cataracts are the cause of 66 percent cases of blindness, 81 percent severe visual impairment cases and 70 percent moderate visual impairment.  Today, the majority of cataract-afflicted Indians live in low-income settings and poverty that lack of access to healthcare services, which leads to low awareness about eye health and increased susceptibility to eye diseases. 

HelpMeSee focuses on this problem by providing training to eye surgeons to treat cataracts.  Through a cost-effective surgical training simulator, specialist are taught manual small incision cataract surgery (MSICS). The simulations teach specialists to handle diverse cases of cataracts, including hundreds of pre-existing conditions and complications, that may be experienced during a live surgery.  This replaces traditional MSICS training which previously was performed on live patients with associated risks and higher economic cost, which are drastically reduced through this process.

James T. Ueltschi, Chairman and Treasurer of HelpMeSee, said: “The bright, young professionals of Goldman Sachs have brought this important cause to the forefront of their firm’s global leadership and secured funding to help eradicate a national crisis in our country which is suffered by the poorest among us.  Today, throughout our communities, cataract blindness is a burden on families, reduces life expectancy and is a cause for loss in economic productivity.  This grant will ultimately allow us to provide greater access to affordable, high-quality surgery and restore the life and dignity of each person this initiative touches and cures.”

The funding for this cause was made possible by the efforts of a five-person analyst team in India that qualified to become one of six teams to advance to the finals of the global Goldman Sachs Gives Analyst Impact Fund competition.  An analyst is the entry level position at Goldman Sachs. The annual Analyst Impact Fund is an initiative that provides Goldman Sachs employees with the opportunity to collaborate with peers across global offices to win a grant for a non-profit organization of their choice and impact the communities where they live and work.

This month the finalists addressed their pitches and presentations to Goldman Sachs Chairman and Chief Executive Officer David Solomon and the firm’s Partnership Committee in New York where the India team was able to secure a $25,000 grant for HelpMeSee India with a fourth place finish.  Overall, the India team competed against 975 other analysts from around the world, who participated on behalf of 360 nonprofits globally. These projects were assessed on the impact, scalability and uniqueness of the proposed project; the team’s analysis of the project goals and financials; and the strength of the organization’s leadership and partnerships. The first-place grant of $250,000 was awarded to a London-based analyst team representing Days for Girls, an organization that aims to increase access to menstrual care and education for girls and women.

Commenting on the annual initiative, Sonjoy Chatterjee, Chairman and Co-Chief Executive Officer of Goldman Sachs in India, said: “The Analyst Impact Fund brings the very best of Goldman Sachs to our communities. This platform builds on our firm’s commitment to philanthropy and longstanding culture of teamwork.  For our analysts the Fund presents a unique opportunity to make a tangible impact on issues they are passionate about at an early stage of their career.  We are proud that year after year, we receive innovative and inspiring ideas from our talented analysts in our efforts to give back to society.”

In the previous years of the global Goldman Sachs Gives Analyst Impact Fund competition, India employees also successfully secured grants for Educate Girls, a non-profit organization that improves enrolment, retention and learning outcomes for girls in the most remote and marginalized communities in India and for Digital Green Foundation, a non-profit integrating technology to improve knowledge sharing for improved agricultural practices, health and nutrition.

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