Impact Investing Tribute #7: To Those Dedicated to Restoring the Gift of Hearing
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 466 million people suffer from disabling hearing loss. 94% of people with hearing loss can be helped with hearing aids, and 80% of them live in low and middle income countries. The WHO estimates that the cost of untreated hearing loss to the global economy every year is $750 billion as a result of decreased productivity, unrealized tax revenue and expensive disability services.
In November last year, one of my daughters and I joined a group of volunteers with World Wide Hearing (https://www.wwhearing.org) together with other volunteers from partner organizations to screen over 2000 children and many of their teachers in schools in Lima, Peru. As a volunteer helping out alongside professional audiologists, I was able to observe the fittings of hearing aids for some of the kids who had been screened a few months before. I will never forget listening to a mother emotionally explain that her 17-year-old daughter had been bullied throughout her schooling due to her slurred speech, and that her 15-year-old sister - who was also in the room for the hearing aid fitting - helped her through tough times and was always there for her. What a beautiful moment when the audiologist fitted the hearing aids and had his questions answered with a larger and larger smile appearing on the girl's face whose life had now been opened up to so many new possibilities!
As another example of the countless number of social and environmental issues that civil society organizations work extremely hard at addressing and governments also often play key roles in tackling but cannot fully address on their own, there are current and potential future roles for impact investing to help create additional sustainable, investible solutions to significantly impact millions of people's lives through restoring the gift of hearing. Every single person having the gift of hearing restored will have a major impact on their lives and those around them, and as stated in the first paragraph, there is also a very substantial potential impact on the global economy which can be factored in different ways into impact investing solutions.