Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Difficulties in Trying to Help the Poor
This story would not have been possible if eight students had not joined together, while at the Catholic University of Korea, Seongshim Campus (Bucheon), and started a business to sell hearing aids to the poor. The founder of the business noticed that the poor who were hard of hearing would rarely have a hearing aid. From a young age, he had wanted to do something for the poor; now in college, he was able to realize that wish. The company offices, located within a university building, have many letters of thanks displayed. The Peace Weekly recounts the early years of the business in the recent issue.
The early years were very difficult. They tried to get help from many public groups but with no success. They were told the hearing aid field would be difficult to break into. And, in fact, the attempt to get financial aid proved to be impossible. But they didn't give up, finally receiving help from a group in Seoul that helped young entrepreneurs.
Also helping out is a government stipend of $340 to the poor who need to buy a hearing aid. Since the company has little overhead and the difficulties of distributing are minor, they can keep the price low to take advantage of the stipend. And the product can be compared favorably with hearing aids on the market. (The market price ranges from $900 to $6000.)
Word is spreading about the product, which has resulted in a great deal of opposition from the companies that have brand name hearing aids. "Delight" has made it clear that the customers they are dealing with are different from the clientele of the big companies. The company goal is simple: that those too poor to afford a hearing aid should have the opportunity to receive one. The founder of the company laments the fact that too many companies are only interested in making money, and that they will probably make it more difficult for them to stay in business. But he will not give up. When the pressure builds up, he goes to the chapel to pray.
"Delight" is facing the same the problem that Lotte and E-mart experienced when selling their products cheaper than the competition. Lotte gave in to the pressure and stopped selling their cheaper chicken, but E-mart continued to sell their cheaper pizza. The "Delight" enterprise, the company stresses, has a completely different objective in mind. They hope that those who are opposed will be able to see the difference.