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I never thought of the possibility of being able to see again. Now I can work properly at my work place and my job is secured. Thanks to God and you." Chanhala Mondol Beneficiary of the Dhaka Urban Comprehensive Eye Care Project run by Sightsavers International and supported through the Seeing is Believing programme
Think of the impact restoring sight can have on one person and how that individual's life changes, then multiply that by the hundreds of thousands of people SiB has treated. That is a huge contribution - not just to the lives of individuals who could not see and now can, but to their families and everybody touched by the lives of those individuals." Brian Doolan, CEO of Fred Hollows Foundation

Seeing is Believing

Seeing is Believing (SiB) is our global collaboration to tackle avoidable blindness across our markets. We fund leading eye care NGOs to help prevent and treat blindness, with all money going direct to delivering projects on the ground. In seven years, the programme has gone from a simple staff-led initiative to raise enough money to carry out 28,000 cataract operations (representing one operation per member of staff), to a $37 million global funding initiative reaching out to over 30 million people. As a Bank we commit to match all funds raised for the programme until its targets are met. Fundraising continues to be driven forward enthusiastically by our staff who continually push the boundaries of the programme's ambition.

Blindness is a key issue across our markets. There are 45 million blind people in the world, and yet 80 per cent of blindness is either preventable or treatable. Ninety per cent of blindness occurs in the developing world. It is an economic issue as much as a health issue in our footprint. The global cost of avoidable blindness could be in excess of $220 billion over the next 20 years unless action is taken. Yet tackling avoidable blindness is one of the most cost-effective health interventions: a sight restoring cataract operation costs, on average, $30; an eye test and glasses cost just $5; and an entire community can be protected from river blindness for just $30. For individuals, these treatments can mean the difference between a life of dependency or a life of independence and work. We see this demonstrated in the case of Chanhala and the hundreds of thousands of others we have helped. The impact of tackling blindness not only helps empowers individual beneficiaries but entire families and communities, as carers are freed to return to work or attend school and communities benefit from the added economic productivity of those individuals. Yet we want the facts to be clearly understood by all, so we are co-funding academic research, with two of our NGO partners, to better understand the cost-efficacy of tackling avoidable blindness and its economic impacts.

Seeing is Believing

At the time of our last sustainability report, SiB had raised over $17million, having met its 2010 fundraising target three years ahead of schedule. Those funds have set up projects in 20 countries and are well on course to have made a difference to the lives of over 11 million people by end of 2010. To date, we have reached 8.3 million beneficiaries across 20 countries through twelve different NGO partners.

  • We have contributed to over 2.5 million cataract operations
  • We have treated 3.8 million people for river blindness, vitamin A deficiency and other preventable conditions such as trachoma.
  • We have funded more than 600,000 refractions and other eye care treatments
  • We have trained over 39,000 health workers

The remaining beneficiaries are made up by those receiving screening, basic treatment and health education. Through school screening programmes, for example, we can ensure that thousands of children receive the eye care treatment needed to correct minor visual problems that can nevertheless result in not being able to see the blackboard or even being forced to leave mainstream schooling.

In 2008 we launched A New Vision to raise $20 million to provide sustainable and comprehensive eye care services to 20 million people in the deprived areas of 20 cities in the Bank's footprint. One year in, the project is well underway and excellent progress has been made on fundraising and project development. In 2009, $3.2 million was raised bringing total fundraising to $5 million since the launch in 2008. Despite financial turmoil and global economic downturn in the last year, fundraising continues to benefit from strong momentum, with the Bank matching this fundraising dollar for dollar. We have achieved 50 per cent of the total fundraising target already and thirteen projects have already been established in 11 countries. These projects plan to reach 12.8 million people in some of the most impoverished urban areas across the world. They will deliver:

  • Over 150,000 surgical interventions (such as cataract operations)
  • Over 790,000 medical eye-care interventions
  • 5.9 million refraction services in order to help tackle the vast need for basic refractive error correction in the developing world.

To achieve all of this, over 16,000 eye-care staff will receive training and 64 eye units will be built or refurbished, ensuring sustainable access to quality services for people from the poor and marginalised communities of the Bank's urban footprint.

Scale, fundraising and client engagement

SiB is propelled forward by the widespread support of our staff who drive fundraising activities across our global footprint. Fundraising is increasingly being integrated into business activities, recognising the power of SiB to engage our clients, customers and stakeholders. For example, in August our Private Bank business launched a package of philanthropy services Investing in a Better Future with SiB included as a partnership opportunity to clients. Through this initiative, the costs of three projects in India, China and Africa have been underwritten.. Additionally, pilot schemes carried out by the Consumer Banking in Hong Kong and Pakistan enabling customers to redeem reward points on their credit cards as donations to SiB have proved effective, and there are now plans to expand this programme globally in 2010. In Wholesale Banking, the Financial Markets team raised over $200,000 in a single day of trading by encouraging their brokers to donate their day's commission for one day of the year on World Health Day to SiB.


'Partnership is a much overused term and many partnerships never overcome the power differentials that exist… The reason why our partnership with Standard Chartered is different and so productive is that both partners so clearly bring different things to the table and there is mutual respect on both sides.'

Peter Ackland CEO, International Agency for Prevention of Blindness (IAPB)

SiB is a partnership bringing together Standard Chartered, the IAPB, an umbrella body for eye care NGOs, and leading international eye-care NGOs such as Sightsavers International, CBM, Helen Keller International, ORBIS, International Centre for Eyecare Education, Fred Hollows Foundation, Operation Eyesight Universal, Right to Sight and others. As coordinators and co-founders, with the World Health Organisation, of the global VISION 2020 campaign to eliminate avoidable blindness by 2020, IAPB advises on project portfolio development, strategic health aims, and project quality. The agency also supports the Bank's relationships with the eye-care NGOs and helps match investment to the respective geographical comparative advantages of those NGOs. We fund a dedicated project manager within IAPB responsible for monitoring, evaluation and the quality assurance of our projects.

For the Bank, SiB means much more than a series of fundraising initiatives - it represents a deep and strategic collaboration in which the Bank has invested seven years of staff fundraising energy, direct financial commitment, reputational capital and governance oversight.

To find out more about how the Bank partners through SiB, you can link to an independent study of the partnership here.


SiB's track record of growth is underpinned by a governance structure which utilises the Bank's financial expertise and on-the-ground country network in order to monitor projects and ensure tight fund management. As the programme has grown in scale and ambition, the governance structure has evolved to accommodate this growth and to further enhance and enable the integration of SiB across the Bank and its business functions. This year we introduced regional fundraising committees comprised of country CEOs and representatives from Consumer Banking to coordinate fundraising and broaden senior staff engagement. Furthermore, all projects are developed with the active involvement of country teams, fostering a greater sense of local ownership. This ensures that the Bank can add maximum value to its partnership at a local level through co-developing opportunities for staff volunteering and advocacy programmes to raise awareness of avoidable blindness.

Seeing is Believing


Given the continued strong momentum behind SiB options are now being explored for a further expansion of the programme.

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Annual Report and Accounts 2009