( ENSPIRE Community Spotlight ) Wazi Vision Creates Job Opportunities for Local Artisans and Prioritizes Eye Care
ENSPIRE Contributor: Katie Doherty
Wazi Vision is the first-ever prescription eyewear brand that’s designed, manufactured, and distributed throughout Uganda. They offer locally produced glasses made by African artists and aim to make eye care more affordable and accessible. Glasses are readily available at many distributors, so anyone can obtain them if needed.
Its mission is to improve eye care health for all Africans. Part of their profits are even used to create programs that improve education around eye care health.
In Uganda and across the continent, it was difficult to have access to prescription eyewear. For many people and children, getting an eye test is challenging, and buying eyeglasses is a luxury few can afford. That’s why in 2016, Brenda Katwesigye formed Wazi Vision, in order to bring high-quality, locally made, fashion-forward glasses to Africans across the globe. They also aim to reduce the stigma around eye care health.
Their mission is to improve access to eye health education and to provide high-quality recycled plastic glasses made from recycled plastic in Africa. They are a part of the African eye health care revolution.
Not only do they care about creating easier access to eyewear, but they also make sure local artists create all of their products. Their designs are bold and are made to feel comfortable. African culture inspires their fit and style especially since Wazi ensures local African artisans made them.
In 2021, they partnered with Assistive Technology Impact Fund (At Impact Fund) to scale their work and impact on East Asia. The UK Aid Investment, through the AT2030 Program led by the Global Disability Innovation Hub invested in their vision to improve the efficiency of their production process as well as provide more accessible partner-led distribution. Through this partnership, they target to reach over 100,000 people in East Africa with high-quality eyewear and support the creativity and ingenuity of over 120 African artists.
They also launched an open call for any artist across Africa to design their Africa-Side collection which is inspired by the rich colors, culture, and history of the African continent. As a result, every pair of Wazi glasses are made using sustainable materials and designed by talented African artisans, with a variety of styles and face shapes in mind. Their priority also focuses on creating high-quality glasses that fit every face shape and making them accessible and affordable.
Not only do they provide opportunities for African artists to express their creativity, but they are also expanding opportunities for economic participation by training and hiring women to work with Wazi Vision. Through this, women earn a fair and living wage.
Great vision and eyesight should be a right, not a privilege. Brenda Katwesigye and her team recognized this and have worked to address the vision challenge in Uganda through Wazi Vision. It’s people like Katwesigye who inspire us and teach us that people can change the world with their vision and determination and in doing so, can create a more equitable, just, and empathetic world for us all to live in.
Katwesigye has this to say about her dream for the world: “To create and sustain a world where no one struggles to meet their basic needs and afford to live. I know the difference that earning a fair, livable wage can make, and what economic empowerment can mean to people who have been struggling to put food on the table. I want a world where everyone has access to a job that allows them to take care of themselves and support their families, and be comfortable affording their basic needs with the fruits of their labor.”