In 2021 we tested new support, distribution and delivery models - focusing on innovative AT solutions for clubfoot, hearing, sight, prosthetics and rehabilitation.
Five AT businesses were invested in, operating across Africa and beyond, including MiracleFeet, hearX, Wazi, Koalaa and OADCPH.
The Assistive Tech Impact Fund accelerates the AT market in Africa. We aim to unlock new solutions for scale, building AT ecosystems and driving change.
hearX makes it possible for lay-health workers to detect and diagnose hearing needs, and demonstrate how hearing aids can help, all in one sitting. It includes an innovative diagnostic model that allows customers to try the hearing aid as part of the diagnostic process in the field to better understand its potential benefits, as well as a proprietary mobile-phone based onboarding program to improve use and benefit.
There are currently 466M people globally with hearing impairments of which 80% are in LMICs. Less than 3% access hearing aids due to cost and there are few qualified health workers for diagnosis. In Africa there is less than one hearing health professional for every million people.
The Lexie hearing aids connect to the consumer facing Lexie app via bluetooth allowing the end-user to do an in-ear hearing test, programme the devices, connect to an online hearing expert who can remotely fine-tune the devices, and work through our proprietary digital onboarding and retention programme that rewards good hearing aid usage.
Over 250,000 hearing tests have already been done through the hearX app in the 10 LMIC markets. ATIF is supporting hearX to test a business model for provision in Kenya, with a subscription payment model and the testing of distribution partners to extend reach.
Clinical smartphone hearing solutionVisit hearX
Wazi's mission is to provide high-quality, fashionable eyewear designed and manufactured in Africa, while working to reduce the stigma around eyecare health, and to improve education around and access to eye testing and treatment.
Wazi sell and distribute both B2C and B2B via eCommerce and traditional channels (eye hospitals, optometrists, retail shops), with a % of profits support Wazi’s non-profit arm that aims to reach into low income segments in Uganda across the value chain of eye care.
Over 1 billion people have a preventable or addressable visual impairment. 80% of those with poor vision live in low- or middle-income countries. Eyecare penetration in these markets is extremely low, and consumers struggle to find high quality, affordable eyecare solutions, and few eyewear options that suit their needs and style.
ATIF is working with Wazi to test and validate a business model for sustainable scale building production, brand and distribution algonside a new manufacturing process in partnership with Cubitts, a manufacturer of eyeglasses in the UK.
Prescription eyewear from UgandaVisit Wazi
Affordable upper limb, soft prosthetic for the Sierra Leone market
An easy to fit, affordable, stylish and functional soft prosthetic solution, which has been made, distributed and used in the UK to date. Through a collaborative design process with local partners, Koalaa has extended the design of the prosthetic solution for the needs of upper limb users in Sierra Leone and for use across the African continent.
An estimated 97% of amputees globally are without a prosthetic, and many of these are concentrated in LMICs. Access issues are prevalent in rural areas and current prostheses are prohibitively expensive, have limited functionality and are uncomfortable to wear. Sierra Leone has a high concentration of amputees, roughly 15x the global average. It provides an opportunity to validate a sustainable, end-to-end service blueprint for providing prosthetics in low-resource contexts.
ATIF is working with Koalaa to test and validate a business model for sustainable scale, establishing an end-to-end service from manufacturing to fitting, ongoing care and maintenance of the limb in urban and rural Sierra Leone.
Affordable prosthetic for Sierra LeoneVisit Koalaa
Increasing access to treatment for impairments caused by clubfoot.
MiracleFeet is on a mission to eliminate impairment caused by clubfoot, a treatable birth difference and a leading cause of physical impairment worldwide. MiracleFeet support the elimination of surgical intervention in babies and young children to treat clubfoot, the previously accepted method of treatment.
MiracleFeet are bringing a non-surgical method of treatment that requires AT to low and middle income countries which is routinely provided in advanced health systems. This products is a low-cost, nonsurgical device that markets at around $25 US and has a success rate of 95%. There are 9.75 million people with clubfoot and as many as 8 million never received treatment.
MiracleFeet provides organisational, technical, and financial support to clinics and practitioners trained in the Ponseti Method, the non-surgical treatment. It involves plaster casting followed by the use of Foot Abduction Braces.
Working alongside GDI Hub and ATIF, MiracleFeet are looking to diversify their distribution and revenue streams, exploring a new commercial model for the clubfoot brace which could help to subsidize the model for low-income customers. The social enterprise model will help to diversify income and make the organisation more sustainable and scalable.
Initially piloted in Nigeria as a pilot, it is hoped the new commercial model will be scalable to more of the 66 countries in MiracleFeet’s portfolio.
Low-cost, nonsurgical clubfoot treatmentSee MiracleFeet
The African Organisation for the Development of Centres for People with Disabilities (OADCPH) facilitates access to quality AT and services through a lower cost distribution model, rehabilitation professional capacity development and technical support to rehabilitation centres in Africa.
Distribution is a key part of the assistive tech value chain and a key barrier to sustainable scale for many organisations. OADCPH supports effective AT distribution via purchasing in bulk and securing favourable payment terms from suppliers, leveraging agreements and relationships with shipping companies, and advising customers on the best value for money for AT purchases.
ATIF is working with OADCPH to digitise the logistics and sales operations and to test and replicate the entire business model in East and Southern Africa, setting up operations via a distribution centre in Kenya.
OADCPH works in 34 countries in Africa. It also has 80+ member organisations.