6 000km for Microfinance: The Expert’s view

Ride across Latin America on a bicycle AND support the creation of a solidarity-based micro-finance system? That was the challenge that Anne and Marie-Eve set themselves as they each devoted their gap year to the project. Solidarity-based microfinance involves providing access to credit to people excluded from the usual, formal financial services. It is a type of credit based on co-financing, since the Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) do not ask for any bank guarantees. This credit is extended to people who want to set up their own business; MFIs then offer to support and train them…

In six months, Anne and Marie-Eve rode 6,000kms from Colombia to Argentina, meeting microfinance institutions and micro-entrepreneurs from Latin America. Through this challenge they encountered typical local communities, chatted with all kinds of people, discovered the world and learned a lot about themselves and others.
The project consisted of four stages: identifying local institutions specializing in microfinance; supporting enterprise with financial backing; meeting institutions and entrepreneurs; and sharing their stories. Quite a challenge, then, for a dynamic duo of 22-year-olds! Theirs is no ordinary story, and well worth reading about.

Find out more about the challenge they overcame.

A challenge as audacious as this could only be completed with special technical equipment. To minimize factors that could inhibit their vision so that Anne and Marie-Êve could concentrate on the South American roads as they navigated them on their bicycles, Essilor® Sun Solution™ supplied each of them with a pair of RYDERS sunglasses equipped with E-Sun™ NXT® Varia™ technology.

The experts of Essilor® Sun Solution™ explain the technical considerations that arose during this trek and with which the glasses dealt with perfectly. Find out more about the technical details and usefulness of these glasses for this type of challenge…

What impact can the South American environment have on vision during a challenge like this?

As with all outdoor adventures, it is essential to protect your skin, eyes and the thin, fragile skin around the eyes. UV radiation is harmful to the eyes and skin. Especially UV A and B, which go through the ozone layer and can damage the cornea.

You can see the difference on the diagrams below between having UV protection and not having it:

The UVs depend on latitude, altitude, the kind of ground (snow, grass, ice and so on) and the time of day or the year. For Anne and Marie-Eve's challenge the average altitude in the Andes Cordillera is 4,000 meters above sea level and the average UV index in Latin America is higher than 9. That means that they were exposed to very high UV radiation throughout their trip.

As well as providing protection, wearing sunglasses makes such experiences more comfortable because they neutralize glare.

Aside from radiation, there is also the problem of the sun’s heat in hot countries such as there are in South America. Constant and prolonged exposure to it causes dry eyes, which in turn leads to fatigue.

What type of glasses are recommended for taking on such a challenge?

Anne and Marie-Eve's challenge was over a significant period of time and in a diverse environment, including desert and forest terrain. As they were on bikes, every gram mattered. The ideal solution was a light pair of glasses that could resist impacts and deal with the differences in light intensity between the various environments: photochromic E-SUN™ VARIA™ sun lenses with NXT® material were exactly what they needed.

Another factor had to be considered: anti-fog coating, which is crucial when the effort expended leads to differences in temperatures between the inside of the glasses, the face and the exterior, especially because of climatic conditions. This coating is ideal for a long and intense activity like the six-month cycling expedition on which the girls embarked.

The lenses used in RYDERS frames are from the best for cycling use. They have our photochromic E-Sun™ Varia™ technology inside combined with our material NXT®. NXT® material is the no compromise sun lens in terms of performance. It combines the optical clarity of mineral lenses with the lightweight and impact resistance of organic lenses. Moreover, since we always strive to combine technical prowess with style, the appearance has not been overlooked, as can be seen from the lovely blue mirror, which is compatible with photochromic technology.

How were these glasses created by the two brands?

RYDERS glasses were designed jointly by the teams of RYDERS and Essilor® Sun Solution™. RYDERS brought the brief and we transformed it into specifications to suit the athletes. For this challenge, the glasses had to be suitable for the cyclists. Our experts suggested technologies that would be able to meet their needs. That is how we arrived at THE perfect glasses for their situation, which would make a critical difference.

How did the partnership work between Essilor Sun Solution and the athletes? What feedback did they give after using these sunglasses?

We kept in regular contact with Anne and Marie-Eve during their travels. It is always important for us to support the athletes with whom we work before, during and after the adventure. We sent them messages of encouragement and regularly got news from them and we were always ready to listen to whatever they had to say. If they had the slightest question, they could get in touch with us.

Of course, before they set off we explained to them the twin merits of photochromic and anti-fog lenses, which were perfectly suited to their situation. They were won over immediately.

A final word on this collaboration and this challenge?

The adventure of Anne and Marie-Eve is remarkable for several reasons … The first is micro-credit: they went to the end of the world to give their support to people in need. The second is the sporting challenge: they chose bicycles as their mode of transport, and 6,000kms is no small distance! So this was a genuine sporting and environmentally-friendly challenge! Then there was the human aspect: two friends headed off to push pushing their physical and mental boundaries, enjoy deeply rewarding encounters and share cultures…

We are very proud to be able to have been their partners! We say it again: bravo to them!


ESSILOR® SUN SOLUTION™ is the new division of ESSILOR specially focused on advanced sun lens technologies.
We serve all our customers of the sunwear industry, for sports, lifestyle or fashion.

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