Botswana based electronic technician and social entrepreneur Tendekayi Katsiga has been quietly making waves globally with his product, Solar Ear, a solar-powered hearing aid.
Tendekayi Katsiga is the founder and C.E.O of Deaftronics, a company that is manufacturing the world’s first solar-powered hearing aids. The inspired idea came in 2009 when Tendekayi Katsiga had an encounter with a deaf boy, who despite having a hearing aid, could not hear Tendekayi well enough because his (the boy’s) hearing aid batteries were flat and were expensive to replace.
Hearing aid batteries cost $1 each and their affordability is a widespread challenge. Tendekayi’s solution to this challenge is a solar-powered hearing aid that charges 3 batteries at once with each battery lasting up to 5 days. Speaking at the INK Conference held in India this year, Tendekayi said,
“Our unit cost $200 that includes the hearing aid, batteries and the charger compared to other products in the market that cost $1000. Solar Ear comes with a warranty for a year, the batteries last 2-3 years and we also have after sales service.”
Deaftronics has pushed over 10,000 units in 40 different African countries and has changed the lives of 3,000 children. Deaftronics is a non-profit organisation and relies on donor grants to be financially sustainable.
In 2013, Deaftronics was one of 11 companies chosen to be part of the Unreasonable at Sea accelerator program, which puts a bunch of tech start-ups solving some the world’s biggest problems, on a ship that sails around the world to 13 countries for 100 days. On the ship were 20 mentors that include the likes of Nobel Peace laureate, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg, and Megan Smith, vice president of Google[x] at Google Inc. Katsiga says his journey on the ship helped him to gain the exposure needed to run a business on a global scale.
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