One of the core senses that inform us of our surroundings is sight. Without it, daily tasks can be near impossible and sadly can result in the sufferer falling into poverty, in some cases extreme poverty. The Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation understands the importance of eye health as well as the detrimental effects it can have on individuals and their families if it declines.
“I rebuilt myself into a big success, and I’m determined to use that success to help rebuild others too”. This quote comes from U.K based investor and technologist, Tej Kohli, who has made it his mission to use his success to improve the lives of those less fortunate around the world.
Growing up in India, Tej Kohli saw firsthand the extent to which extreme poverty affects people, their families and future generations. He studied at the Indian Institute for Technology, as he had a keen interest in emerging technologies that make people’s lives easier. As time went on, this interest grew into a career where Kohli built and sold companies during the dot com boom of the late 1990s and early 2000s. From online payment gateways to biotech innovations, Kohli has invested his passion and wealth into improving the lives of millions.
Nowadays many know Kohli as a strong advocate of omnipresent AI and for his backing of ambitious entrepreneurs working in the AI realm. For 15 years, his investments have helped improve AI and in turn, improve human life. He believes that AI will be one of the biggest advancements in human life since fire and electricity.
Yet that is not all Tej Kohli is involved in. His desire to be a part of the next big thing has led him into many exciting ventures with great success. One of these is esports, an industry he said in 2020 would only get more and more lucrative. Using his company, Rewired, he’s invested thousands into esports team Vitality from France and the benefits have been seen. Thanks to Mr Kohli’s support, the team has become a trailblazing force within the industry.
Tej Kohli also has a longstanding interest in real estate, with his company Zibel Read Estate operating in luxury residences that showcase innovation at commercial and cultural scales. Zibel Real Estate also supports Tej Kohli’s wider investments, a vast majority of which are philanthropic. From partnering with Open Bionics, a robotics pioneer from Bristol, to fund bionic arms for children, to awarding grants to UK-based projects that help end corneal blindness.
The topic of blindness has been something Mr Kohli has focussed a lot of his efforts on. In 2015 he set up The Tej Kohli Cornea Institute which welcomed 223,404 outpatients, had success in 43,225 surgeries, utilised 22,176 donor corneas, trained 152 clinicians, published 202 papers and gave 892 presentations.
This was just the tip of the iceberg for Mr Kohli. In 2021, he founded the Tek Kohli & Ruit Foundation with co-founder and ophthalmologist colloquially known as ‘God of Sight’, Dr Sanduk Ruit. Since its genesis, the foundation has cured over 18,000 people in some of the most remote communities in South Asia in countries like Nepal and Bhutan.
Both men are in their sixties and both have spent a large part of their lives dedicated to helping others. This team united over a shared desire to combat extreme poverty in low-income countries by curing needless blindness, a large endeavour for the pair.
Dr Ruit came from humble beginnings. Born in a mountainous remote village in Eastern Nepal, Dr Ruit was motivated to become a doctor after tragically losing his sister to tuberculosis when he was 17. This loss ignited a flame within the doctor to put an end to needless suffering from preventable diseases.
Growing up in Nepal, Ruit was all too aware of the high number of the population that suffers from needless cataracts and he, along with colleagues, started the Nepal Eye Program Australia (NEPA) in 1992. The goal of the program was to provide effective and cost-efficient treatment to hundreds of people who lost their sight to cataracts.
Along with fellow ophthalmologist, Fred Hollows, Ruit developed a strategy of using low-cost intraocular lenses in small-incision cataract surgery. As time went on, the lenses proved to still be too expensive for patients so, in 1996, Ruit developed an industry-changing lens at a fraction of the cost. The lenses are used in over 60 countries around the world and Ruit’s methods are taught in U.S medical schools. Along with these accolades, Ruit’s method has the same 98% success rate as western medical methods.
The Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation has a goal of curing 300,000-500,000 cases of cataract blindness around the world by 2030. With partnerships between the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation and the Bhutanese Ministry of Health running, and a trip planned for Dr Ruit and Tej Kohli to visit the village Dr Ruit grew up in, the legacy that this foundation is creating is undoubted.
The Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation Collective Fund is a restricted fund operating under the auspices of Prism the Gift Fund, Registered Charity Number: 1099682