01 Jun

01 June 2016

Nneile Nkholise, SAB Foundation

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While studying towards a Masters in Mechanical Engineering at the Central University of Technology (CUT) in the Free State, I was introduced to Maxillio Facial Prosthesis and how to apply additive manufacturing to create medical prosthetics.

Part of my research was to create and manufacture medical prosthesis and translate that into a business. I investigated what transactional research was and started developing the idea to create a business from my research.

I didn’t know how I was going to start and in May 2015, I found an email about the SAB Foundation Social Innovation Awards in my inbox. It took me a week to decide to enter the awards and the whole day to complete the registration because I knew my idea was good but I didn’t know how to communicate it well. All I knew was that I had a great product and wanted to help people.

I was at the World Student Games in South Korea when I got a response from the Foundation that my application was successful and I needed to come for an interview. During the programme, I had difficulty moving from an academic mindset to an entrepreneurial one. I was once asked what I wanted to achieve and all I knew was to be an ordinary researcher and I wanted to create products people needed.

The mentorship from the programme was beneficial because their team walk the road with you while networking opportunities allowed me to meet the right people.

The seed funding from SAB Foundation allowed me to acquire equipment to design and create a much lighter and fitting prototype than other products previously created, which were much heavier. With the same machine, I’ve now created the final product that is given to patients in government hospitals post mastectomy procedure.

With the help of the Foundation, I’ll be embarking on a campaign that will get breast prosthetics to 1000 women.

Long term, I would like to venture into product diversification like ointments for scars to increase my revenue streams and create more jobs.