Eco-Friendly Prosthetics: Circular Entrepreneur Puts Accessible Solutions Within Reach
22 May 2023
Circular entrepreneur makes prosthetics accessible to the underprivileged through an innovative business model.
Imagine being badly injured and in dire need of a supportive brace to aid in your healing and mobility during recovery, but unable to afford a quality device from a private health sector provider. This is a common challenge many low-income earners face in South Africa’s rural areas. However, Ncedo Ludada, a circular entrepreneur, has uncovered an innovative solution to increase access to orthotics and prosthetics in an affordable and eco-friendly way.
Ncedo is the founder of Ludada and Associates Orthopedic Services, a business in the Eastern Cape that offers rented orthotic and prosthetic devices instead of selling them at a high cost. The rented products are either purchased or donated by individuals who no longer need them. Renting devices is not only economically viable but also environmentally responsible, as it prevents devices from ending up in landfills and causing pollution.
An environmentally conscious business
Ncedo is passionate about making quality orthotics and prosthetics accessible to low-income earners, and his business model is designed to do just that. By offering affordable rentals and ensuring proper fitting of the devices, he is bridging the gap in inadequate health and rehabilitation services for people with disabilities. The United Nations report on the realization of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, suggests that approximately 64% of persons with disabilities who need rehabilitation are unable to access these services.
The World Health Organization says that around 35-40 million people require prosthetic or orthotic services worldwide, highlighting the significant need for such solutions. In South Africa, people living with disabilities in rural areas do not have easy access to prosthetics compared to their counterparts living in urban areas.
The former Transkei is one of the most densely populated regions in the Eastern Cape, yet it is one of the least serviced in terms of mobility assistive technology. The area is also characterised primarily by rural dwellings and towns, which is an additional barrier to access to medical services.
Why one size does not fit all
Ncedo’s journey in the health sector began in 2012 when he was recruited by the Department of Health to study the manufacturing of orthotics and prosthetics. After obtaining his qualifications, he worked at East London’s Frere Hospital, where he realized that the “one size fits all” technology commonly used resulted in discomfort and pain for most patients after their prosthetics were fitted. This motivated him to start his own company while working as a lecturer at Walter Sisulu University.
Despite initial challenges, Ncedo’s business has seen rapid growth, with revenues increasing to more than R1 million. This success has led him to resign from his job and focus on his business full-time.
His innovative business model of renting orthotic and prosthetic devices is making these much-needed devices more affordable for low-income earners, but also contributing to environmental sustainability by reducing waste. His passion for improving access to quality healthcare for people with disabilities and his commitment to protecting the environment make him a true leader and changemaker in his community and beyond.
“We would like to be known as environmentally conscious game-changers and liberators that are helping South Africans have access to appropriate technology without harming the environment,” concluded Ludada.