James Chen’s Entrepreneurial Odyssey (A): Adlens

Case Solution

Randel Carlock, Elin Williams

This three-part case study examines the evolution of Adlens, a commercial company, and Vision for a Nation as a social enterprise developed in parallel. The entrepreneur’s strategy is to profitably sell Adlens innovative optical products in middle- to high-income economies, while Vision for a Nation is dedicated to improving eyesight in developing countries, starting with Rwanda. An important synergy arises from the “Buy one, give one” model, in which for each Adlens glasses purchased, additional glasses (adjustable or traditional) are given free in Rwanda. Developing Adlens and Vision for a Nation as viable businesses has not been an easy task. Despite the enormous amount of time and money that James Chen has invested in these projects, their long-term sustainability has yet to be proven. But as a “patient capital” investor, look beyond the logic of short-term profit making.

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