“To be honest, since I was a child, I’ve always loved helping people, I’ve never looked down on others. So what I did was to combine my passion and my skills, and that’s how I founded my company, “said Sibongile Mongadi about starting Uku’hamba.
Her company produces lightweight prosthetics to help amputees get around more easily. Uku’hamba embodies what Mongadi has always stood for; helping the vulnerable in society.
She started the company following a visit to the hospital after a thumb infection, whereupon she chanced on an amputee struggling to access his prosthetic limb at the hospital. She was moved by what she had seen and decided to act, according to IOL.
“I put myself in that amputee’s shoes,” said Mongadi, quizzing: “Yes, it may not be me or one of my loved ones, but what if it was?”
“I went and spoke to him, to try to find out what the problem was, and was told that he had been coming to the hospital for five years trying to access a prosthetic limb from the public sector.”
The little investigation she did showed that demand for prostheses far outstripped supply. In addition, the cost is so high and beyond the reach of underprivileged people. She also investigated the use of 3D technology to address the needs of amputees, particularly concerning cost, quality, and the use of environmentally friendly materials, she told IOL.
“I taught myself about 3D printing then a few years later I tried to back it up with a qualification, and that’s how I ended up at the University of Johannesburg,” said Mongadi.
She uses a 3D printing machine to produce prosthetic limbs, and they come in a variety of bright colors and cater to clients’ specifications. They are also lightweight, which helps in easy movement, and also affordable.
According to Mongadi, her prosthetics are 80 percent cheaper than what is available on the market. “The life span of our limbs is on par with what is already on the market. The general lifespan of a prosthetic is five years,” she added.
She also has a partnership deal with some private hospitals for the supply of prosthetics. She is also a recipient of many awards in recognition of her hard work and innovation. She has been recognized as a Global Digital Female Leader in Innovation.
Mongadi hails from Dobsonville, Soweto. She was raised by self-employed parents and from a family of eight siblings. According to the entrepreneur, her parents were uneducated but that did not prevent her from chasing her dreams. Today, she is a role model in her community.