avatar for Kovin Naidoo

Kovin Naidoo

Brien Holden Vision Institute
Global Programs Director
A former political prisoner, social activist, academic, researcher, educator and international public health leader, Kovin has been revolutionising access and delivery to eye care in Africa and for the disadvantaged throughout the world. A powerful public health advocate, he has devoted his working life to reducing avoidable blindness and vision impairment in people in need. Elected an Ashoka Fellow in 2006 for his social entrepreneurial efforts in addressing the needs of those less privileged, he is a Fullbright Scholar and was awarded in 2009 the Honorary Fellowship Award by the British College of Optometrists for his contributions to the development of optometry in Africa and the developing world. Kovin was awarded a Doctorate of Optometry from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry, was African Optometrist of the Year in 2002 and named International Optometrist in 2007. He was jointly awarded with Professor Brien Holden the Schwab Social Entrepreneur Award for Africa 2010, at the regional World Economic Forum in Tanzania. The Brien Holden Vision Institute is the leading social enterprise in eye care utilising a mixed model of a NGO and Commercial entity approach. It derives millions of dollars in royalties from contact lens research and design and invests such income to advance its public health agenda. Kovin has initiated various efforts and given the leadership on human resource for eye health, service delivery, research and social enterprise efforts of the Institute. His efforts have been instrumental in a range of advances in eye care at local, national and international levels through the Institutes offices across the world. The key social enterprise activities include: -the establishment of the Global Resource Centre, an important innovation that works to overcome the significant barriers of cost and availability of spectacles and optical equipment, which limit the ability of eye care programmes to deliver appropriate vision correction. -vision centers which are run collaboratively or independently as social enterprises -a social franchise system for the establishment of eye care and optical units -empowerment of women through the manufacture of spectacle cases and selling of reading glasses Kovin’s determination to create sustainable eye care solutions has seen the development of a District Eye Care Model and service delivery programme for the KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa. The model not only represents a methodical approach to delivering sustainable eye care in areas of the province that lack these services, but is designed as a blueprint to be implemented throughout Africa. Kovin’s appointments include: member of the World Council of Optometry Governing Board; World Health Organization Refractive Error Working Group; Africa Chair for the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness; Chairperson of the Red Cross Aero-medical Services Board of Trustees. Kovin is also the founder and Chair of the NGO African Vision which is establishing cataract surgical services in Africa and the founder and CEO of the African Vision Research Institute which is committed to increasing the research capacity of eye care practitioners in Africa.