• The Heroine Project

Nneile Nkholise: The medical prosthesis fundi

Updated: May 13, 2019

Nneile Nkholise @neyne_santos is the founder of iMed Tech, a medical prosthesis 3D design & manufacturing company which is focused on creating custom-designed, breast prosthesis for women who have undergone mastectomies as a consequence of having suffered from breast cancer. Nneile’s focus on breast prosthesis stems from her Masters in mechanical engineering research at the Central University of Technology. She tells us that initially her research was focused on ear prosthesis but in reflecting on it, she realised that the need for ear prosthesis was far more limited and decided to focus on an area where they was a greater need. This lead her to focussing on breast prosthesis. Setting up a new company has not come without its challenges - from losing her original business partner to the field of academic research, the challenges of convincing funders of her product and its value, to ensuring that her products meet the highest of medical manufacturing standards . However, despite these obstacles, Nneile was a winner of the SAB Foundation Social Innovation Award and was selected to be part of the Discovery MedTech Silicon Valley programme. Her company now employs 5 full time staff and has branched out into other prosthesis too to help facilitate better returns to sustain a long-term goal of wanting to make breast prosthesis available to women who can’t afford it.

Despite her significant successes, Nneile still believes that she fell short of her intended goal, one in particular being her promise to create 1000 breast prosthesis to be given to women who could not afford it but unfortunately due to the company’s U.S. raw material supplier letting them down with the non-delivery of a required raw material, Nneile was unable to fulfill her campaign’s promise.

We are inspired by Nneile’s commitment to using her skill set in prosthesis to help give women who have undergone mastectomies, back their dignity and her courage in enduring the struggles of entrepreneurship.

Featured artist: Katy Cambridge @the_portrait_artist


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