Delight manufactures and distributes affordable hearing aids to the elderly and those suffering from hearing impairment in South Korea.
Focus: Health, Disability
Geographic Area of Impact: South Korea
Model: Social Business
Number of Direct Beneficiaries: 5,500 (2013)
Annual Budget: USD 4.3 million (2013)
Percentage Earned Revenue: 100% (2013)
The Social Problem
South Korea has a rapidly aging population – over 12% of the population is above sixty five years of age and the OECD estimates the country will have the second oldest population by 2050, after Japan. Despite its impressive economic growth, income inequality is on the rise, particularly amongst the country’s elderly. This demographic group is also highly susceptible to medical conditions such as Presbycusis, a decrease in hearing ability caused by degenerative physical change along with aging. According to South Korea’s Ministry of Health, 25% of its people over sixty-five and 40% of people over seventy-five have hearing problems. The government subsidy is, however, USD 300, only about one-fifth of the market price. Without any means of income or family support, many elderly citizens find it difficult to access or afford hearing aids.
Innovation and Activities
The hearing aid market in South Korea is dominated by foreign manufacturers or domestic companies that import key components, assemble the device locally and distribute through local supply chains. Without access to the original production technology, domestic players are often unable to dictate the sales price or choice of supply partners.
Delight disrupts the status quo through a) an original and indigenous production technology that is less dependent on foreign components and b) direct sales through company-owned retail stores. This model has allowed the company to offer competitive market prices for its devices, often 50-70% lower than existing players. Delight has made the hearing aids accessible to the needy, particularly with low income, by offering a sales price that is equal to the government subsidy for citizens with hearing problems. For those who are economically stable, which means he/she is not eligible for government subsidies, Delight offers the market price, thus ensuring overall financial sustainability in its business operations. Given the indigenous design and production, the company was also able to adapt the design of the product to be more suitable for Asian physical characteristics.
In 2014, Delight operated 19 stores in the country. In addition, Delight has entered into partnerships with Korean companies who purchase hearing aids and donate them to the elderly or children in need of hearing aids. For Delight, this serves as an additional revenue source and a means to increase access to its hearing aids. For the partner companies, it is an opportunity to exercise their corporate social responsibility.
Delight’s focus now is on expanding its operations both within Korea and emerging markets, improving the product technology and securing capital for growth and expansion.
Jung-Hyeon, was born in 1986 in Seoul, he majored business management and had the chance to study social enterprise in college and subsequently founded Delight in 2010. He is a decorated entrepreneur at the national level having been awarded the Young Entrepreneur of the Year by the South Korean Ministry of Knowledge (2012) and Entrepreneur of the Year by Forbes Korea (2013). He also honored a 1st prize in Korea Social Enterprise Competition, and awarded National Yong Leader by government. Delight was conferred B Corporation status in 2011 and Jung-Hyeon has been a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Seoul Hub since 2013.
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