It takes great effort to imagine a world of no sound. But for some people, their lack of hearing ability is reality. It is something they must live with their entire lives.
Often, their desire to hear is not only related to hearing the daily chirpings of birds and the dripping of fountains.
“Some people can’t even hear the sound of approaching cars which is very dangerous,” said Kim Jung-hyun (Catholic University of Korea, 4), who is currently a co-owner of a social enterprise named Delight.
A social enterprise is a type of business that aims to fulfill two purposes: business success and social contribution. Delight perfectly fits into this category as it works to generate profit, while at the same time, it helps solving the grave troubles of the society through its economic means.
Delight sells low-price hearing aids to poor people suffering from hearing disabilities. The company was established in September 9, 2009, by two young college students.
Kim, who is a business major, has been off school until this year. He plans to continue working while catching up with his academics. You Byung-gon (Kyung Hee University, 4), is also a business major and the second co-owner of Delight. The two have been friends since high school.
“I first came up with the idea of creating the hearing aid company and You gave in,” said Kim. “Today, we now have 6 co-workers including both students and businessmen.”
Since it was established, Delight has sold about 30 hearing aids to people who could not afford buying expensive hearing devices.
The general market price of hearing aids is over a million won. In addition, depending on the seriousness of the disability, the cost can go even higher up to five million won and over.
“Many people who suffer from hearing disabilities, are usually old people who can’t afford to pay such a large amount of money,” said Kim.
Delight has worked to minimize the cost of hearing aids through eliminating unnecessary components. Also, it does not use advertising means. The company itself is used to save on its own expenses.
“The more we save, the less our customers will be burdened,” said Kim.
As a result of its efforts, Delight was able to reduce the cost of its hearing aids down to 340 thousand won, one forth the cost of the original price. Its own profit increased up to 15 million won last month.
However, not everybody can buy a hearing aid from Delight. Applicants must go through a strict selection process.
“We don’t sell our hearing aids to people who are relatively wealthy enough to afford the expensive cost of common hearing aids,” said Kim.
Delight has its own standard of customers. One of the standards includes those with hearing disabilities who receive financial assistance for a living from the government.
For those who do not receive financial assistance but live in poor environments can also apply to buy hearing aids from Delight.
“The reason why we do this is because the entire purpose of our business is to help people who are in need of hearing aids but could not afford to buy them,” said Kim. “Using efficient methods of business corporations, we want to help eradicate social problems rather than just earning money.”
According to the Ministry of Labor’s report on social enterprises, social ventures are increasing nowadays as there is a trend among companies to contribute to social welfare. Social enterprises are also contributing to the decrease of unemployment.
Delight is looking for new workers and volunteers. “We welcome anybody who is willing to help,” said Kim. “We are planning to offer more benefits and opportunities for those people.”
The employees of Delight even work on Sundays. “I enjoy my work very much,” says Kim. “It’s fun to help others with what I have. At the same time I can earn a living.”