THE true mark of success is not just a measure of one’s wealth, but also how much of that wealth is given back to society.
This is the mantra that Maxvue Vision Sdn Bhd founder and chief executive officer Selvam Kanniah lives by, as he gets his company involved in charitable works that he began.
“It shows how successful a person is when they work not just to develop themselves, but also the society around them,” said Selvam.
Having used his wealth earned through his business to help the needy for the past six years, Selvam later decided to involve his company and staff in his personal charity projects.
Maxvue Vision’s efforts in corporate social responsibility (CSR) earned recognition when the company took home the Gold for Best in CSR at the Star Outstanding Business Awards 2017 in the Up to RM25mil revenue category.
It was a hat-trick for the company that year as it also won the Silver for Best in Marketing and Best Innovation.
Selvam said that it was the first time they earned recognition for their CSR efforts as they did not realise how much they had done and did not think to submit an entry for the category before this.
The contact lens company has a special division named the Welfare and Wellness Team, involving about seven staff, in the organising and execution of the company’s various CSR initiatives.
Relevant to the business, vision causes resonate strongly with Selvam and his team.
One of their biggest initiatives in this area is the provision of glasses for underprivileged students.
“Some of the students we met needed glasses with power as high as 600. They could not read anything on the blackboard at school,” said Selvam.
Most of the cases, he said, were a result of parents being unable to afford the glasses or simply not seeing the necessity and ignoring their children’s needs.
Through free eye tests conducted at schools, over 40 underprivileged children in 15 schools around Port Dickson and Lukut in Negri Sembilan, have received free glasses that were necessary to help them in their education.
“Our optometry customers support our programme so much that they volunteer their time to help us conduct the eye tests for free,” said Selvam.
“This past year, we also issued a cheque to support a local NGO for low vision causes, as this is one area that nobody is paying attention to,” he added.
The company met with an individual who champions the cause by visiting people living in low-income areas who suffer from low vision severe enough to prevent them from getting hired for jobs.
“This man funds cataract surgeries for some of these people. He has a pool of doctors who are willing to do it for free, but he still needs money for equipment, prescriptions and other things,” said Selvam.
“He had trouble getting enough donations to run his centre, which provides treatment, glasses and free food to the people he helps, so we stepped in to support him there.”
Additionally, Maxvue Vision also constantly seeks to collaborate with educational institutions in the area of research and development (R&D) when it came to vision.
Selvam said they have long supported optometrist schools at universities, sometimes asking their own partner optometry experts to give lectures there.
“We are also looking at how to engage more graduate students on R&D activities, maybe by working on a special new formulation of eye drops,” he added.
Besides vision-related efforts, Maxvue Vision has also worked to support people with disabilities and single mothers – even within their own organisation.
About six to seven years ago, an amputee and single mother approached them for help. Maxvue Vision hired her providing a monthly allowance and supporting her daughter’s education.
“She worked hard to overcome her limits and now she is independent. Her daughter even managed to gain entry to a public university,” said Selvam.
Among its ranks, Maxvue Vision employs a few stroke patients, people with certain mental disorders, and single mothers, who are each given work suited to their abilities.
The company takes extra measures to ensure their disadvantaged employees are well looked after.
Schoolgoing children of single mothers receive a monthly allowance and a laptop computer to assist in their studies.
Maxvue Vision even maintains an internal welfare fund where lower income staff can take emergency loans from the welfare fund and pay it back on a monthly basis according to their means.
Among other causes that Selvam personally donated to include a palliative care society, flood victims in Kerala, India in August last year, as well as funds for the renovation of Hindu temples.
“I’d like to get my company more involved in charity projects like these and get the staff to organise these programmes,” he said.
Selvam is even mulling over the idea of including CSR volunteering as part of their employees’ annual performance review so that they can make a bigger difference in society.
Maxvue Vision was founded in 2004 by Selvam and his wife Viji Ramasamy Pillai after a series of random events that led to a profitable business opportunity.
While working in Singapore, Viji was asked by a customer at her old sales job if she knew where to source for branded contact lenses.
After leaving that job, she started looking into the contact lens market and found a list of suppliers and even potential buyers.
Without even having an established company, they attracted the attention of their first buyer, who came all the way from Japan to meet them and unexpectedly placed a large order.
As they started getting more orders for contact lenses, Selvam eventually left his old engineering job to join his wife in building Maxvue Vision as a trader of contact lenses, sourcing from Asian suppliers and exporting them to distributors worldwide.
Today, Maxvue Vision has grown to design and produce its own contact lenses, with a brand presence in over 60 countries.
Maxvue Vision is particularly known for its ColourVue brand of coloured contact lenses. Its Crazy Lens products are particularly popular with the cosplay community as well as around Halloween season in October, where the demand for costume contact lenses rises.