In a significant stride towards bridging the vision gap across Africa, Lapaire, a pioneering eyewear startup, has secured a substantial $3 million in funding. Led by impact investment fund Investisseurs & Partenaires (I&P), with contributions from AAIC, FINCA Ventures, and Beyond Capital, this equity round propels Lapaire into its next phase of expansion. Let's explore the journey of Lapaire, its innovative approach to eyewear accessibility, and the transformative impact it aims to achieve.
Founding Visionary: Jérôme Lapaire
Founded in 2018 by Jérôme Lapaire, a Swiss national who relocated to Kenya in 2015, Lapaire's inception was rooted in entrepreneurial exploration. Despite graduating with a law degree, Jérôme's foray into business ideas led him to a compelling vision: providing accessible eyewear solutions to the African population.
Navigating Business Ideas
Before settling on eyewear, Jérôme contemplated digitizing inter-city transport, expanding insurance coverage, and addressing eyewear accessibility. A pivotal moment came when he delved into the eyewear market's potential on the continent, prompting the birth of Lapaire.
Unique Approach to Eyewear Accessibility
Unlike conventional eyewear sellers, Lapaire adopted a distinctive B2B approach. Jérôme reached out to employers, offering free eye tests to employees, a strategy that resonated with corporate entities. His compelling pitch focused on the positive impact on employee performance, reduced accidents, and enhanced well-being, all without any cost to the employers.
Affordable and Direct-to-Customer Model
Lapaire's success lies in affordability and direct-to-customer engagement. Selling glasses at an 80% lower price than competitors, the company maintains cost control by directly interacting with manufacturers and exclusively stocking Lapaire glasses. This strategic approach enables affordability and accessibility for a significant portion of the African population.
Addressing a Vision Gap
Approximately 35% of Africa's population grapples with vision impairments, with 80% of cases correctable with eyeglasses. Lapaire steps into this gap by offering cost-effective services, efficiently cutting delivery costs, and expanding its reach to new locations.
Vision for the Future
Operating in six countries – Côte d'Ivoire, Benin, Togo, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Uganda – Lapaire has evolved from a B2B model to direct customer engagement. With 58 eye care centers and a workforce of 350 people, Lapaire's impact is growing.
Over the next two years, Lapaire envisions opening 300 eye care centers, solidifying its commitment to positively impact the lives of one million people across the continent by 2026. As Jérôme Lapaire affirms, "We are now in the best position to accelerate our growth."
In summary, Lapaire emerges not just as an eyewear provider but as a visionary catalyst for change, bringing clarity to millions and reshaping the eyewear landscape across Africa.