In South Africa, physical disability remains a significant challenge for many individuals who lack access to prosthetic limbs. Whether resulting from accidents, congenital conditions, diseases, or violence, the scarcity and high cost of prosthetics amplify the situation. Moreover, society still stigmatizes disability, depriving individuals of their independence and dignity.
Inspiration strikes unexpectedly. For Uku’Hamba, Founder, Sibongile Mongadi, it happened while she was undergoing treatment at a local hospital. Intrigued by a fellow patient’s struggle to access a prosthetic limb from the public sector for over five years, she felt compelled to act. She discovered that the hospital, despite its desire to help amputees, lacked the capacity to meet the demand. Eager to find a solution, Sibongile began researching and realized that the inaccessibility of prosthetics in South Africa was primarily due to expensive imported materials. Determined to change this, she embarked on a mission to transform discarded plastic bottles into affordable prosthetics.
Uku’Hamba Prosthetics and Orthotics (Pty) Ltd is a black youth- and women-owned tech healthcare manufacturing company in South Africa. Their cutting-edge technology allows them to produce high-quality, affordable prosthetics and orthotics for amputees and individuals with disabilities. What sets Uku’Hamba apart from other startups in the industry is their commitment to customization, ensuring that clients receive prosthetics tailored to their specific needs and preferences. By infusing fashion into their designs, Uku’Hamba aims to empower users to proudly showcase their prosthetics, potentially challenging the stigma associated with disability.
Starting any business comes with its share of challenges, and Uku’Hamba was no exception. One of their major hurdles was compliance with industry standards. However, through perseverance and dedicated fundraising efforts, they successfully obtained certifications such as ISO 13485:2016 for medical devices and are currently working towards ISO 14971:2019 for Risk Management. These achievements demonstrate Uku’Hamba’s commitment to quality and safety in their products.
Uku’Hamba Prosthetics & Orthotics has ambitious plans for the future. Their mission is to provide custom-made, water-resistant, low-cost, and high-quality prosthetics and orthotics efficiently, thereby improving the quality of life for their customers. By continuously expanding their footprint as a manufacturer, Uku’Hamba aims to restore pride and dignity to people living with physical disabilities. Their dedication to excellence, innovation, integrity, collaboration, and customer satisfaction is at the core of their operations.
Through their work, Uku’Hamba aims to address the significant lack of accessibility to prosthetics in South Africa. Currently, only around 30.5% of individuals have access to these life-changing devices, often limited to those with higher incomes or sponsorships. This scarcity has severe consequences, leading to high dropout rates among people with disabilities in education and civic life. Uku’Hamba is determined to be a part of the solution, making mobility accessible and leaving no one behind.
To further their mission and impact, Uku’Hamba recognizes the importance of participating in the Online Pitch Competition hosted by UVU Africa. The platform provides opportunities for exposure, networking, and potential funding. Uku’Hamba won the first-place prize of R10 000 and a Digital Marketing Toolkit to assist with double, triple or 10x lead generation and customer conversion. Therefore, the winnings adds to the mission of being a part of the solution, by making mobility accessible for all.