Brazilian dental company commits to expand quality care for low-income communities
New York and Sao Paulo—Some one million people are expected to gain access to high quality dental care in low-income areas of Brazil following a commitment by the Brazilian dental franchise Sorridents to the Business Call to Action (BCtA), a global initiative aimed at supporting inclusive businesses.
BCtA encourages companies to fight poverty through innovative business models and is supported by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and other international organizations.
Sorridents has pledged to nearly triple in size, aiming to operate 400 dental clinics by the end of 2016. Founded by a young dentist in 1995, Sorridents is already the largest chain of dental clinics, either fully owned or franchised in Latin America.
These clinics aim to provide accessible, affordable dental care closer to home, typically on the outskirts of large and mid-sized cities, where real estate is more affordable and most low-income people live.
Sorridents clinics offer a variety of dental procedures, serving as a much-needed one-stop shop for dental care, especially for the elderly and people with disabilities.
“We believe our expansion will help low-income populations do more than just seek treatment during emergencies. It will help them access the high-quality care that is integral to health and well-being,” Sorridents Chief Executive Officer Carla Sarni said.
The company expects this new effort will reach up to one million new patients by 2016.
In Brazil, 75 percent of dentists practice in the Southeast region, which encompasses the states of Sao Paolo, Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais and Espirito Santo—and while dental clinics are numerous they are either expensive or low quality. By franchising in new regions, Sorridents aims to reach low-income patients historically unable to afford preventive dental care.
“Sorridents’ commitment to the Business Call to Action demonstrates a unique and inclusive business model that addresses the need for adequate preventive care in traditionally underserved markets,” BCtA Acting Programme Manager Sahba Sobhani said. “It also allows access to more affordable options in dental care, improving consumers’ overall health.”
While a new clinic requires a modest investment and franchise fee, the company provides rigorous training in all aspects of starting and managing a clinic. Sorridents also assists franchisees with site location, rent negotiation and training of direct employees and partner dentists.
According to UNDP's 2013 Human Development Report, Brazil has dramatically reduced the proportion of its people who are income-poor—from 17.2 percent of the population in 1990 to 6.1 percent in 2009. But the government-funded health system is overstretched and access to medical and dental care is uneven.
Brazil has a high number of dentists and nearly 200 dental schools, but the market is competitive and many cannot afford to maintain practices. Sorridents’ innovative franchise model aims to keep more dentists working and serving new consumer markets.
Business Call to Action is a global initiative that challenges companies to develop inclusive business models that offer the potential for development impact along with commercial success. The initiative is the result of a partnership between the Australian Agency for International Development, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, UK Department for International Development, US Agency for International Development, UN Development Programme, the UN Global Compact, the Clinton Global Initiative, and the International Business Leaders Forum to meet the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. Companies report on progress toward commitments on an annual basis.
Sorridents was founded in 1995, in Vila Cisper, east of the state capital, the Sorridents Dental Clinics is now among the leading network of dental clinics in Latin America and through its franchising has established itself as the biggest dental clinic chain in Brazil, with almost 200 clinics in 16 states. The company is headquartered in São Paulo. Sorridents has been chosen as the best health franchising company of the year for the second time this year and recently received the Excellence Award from ABF (Brazilian Franchising Association).