Shonaquip Social Enterprise, creating inclusive ecosystems for people with disabilities.

Inyosi Empowerment is honoured to announce the successful loan approved to Shonaquip (Pty) Ltd. (“ShonaquipSE”). The requested loan funding will be used to alleviate the cash flow pressures by providing working capital loan to fund the remaining costs needed to fulfil a tender awarded by the Botswana Ministry of Health & Wellness.

The origin story of ShonaquipSE is not only a heart-warming one, but an incredibly phenomenal and inspirational one which should inspire people to strive for change and community upliftment. Ghandi once said “be the change you want to see in the world”, and this is one of those cases. Shonaquip was established in 1992 by Shona Mcdonald, Shona and her family encountered challenges not many people could ever consider. Shona’s daughter was born with Cerebral Palsy, a condition which affects her ability to speak, move and maintain her stability and posture. In South Africa, 10 in 1000 children are diagnosed with cerebral palsy. A mother on a mission, Shona drew on her sculpting background to design a mobility device, which made caring for her daughter safer, easier, and opened new possibilities for fun and learning.

After receiving many requests about the mobility device she had designed and built for her daughter, Shona launched Shonaquip from her garage, with a tiny team of two.  Since then, ShonaquipSE’s footprint has spread throughout Southern Africa, and  has grown into a recognised global name, supplying products as far as Iraq, Georgia, India and Uganda.

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ShonaquipSE’s footprint has grown steadily since establishment in 1992

The entity was founded as a ‘business for good’, which is exactly what they are. Shonaquip manufactures and sells posture support and mobility devices for people with disabilities, investing all profits in delivery of their social development agenda. Shonaquip forms part of a hybrid Social Enterprise, alongside Uhambo Foundation (NPC), and the Champions of Change Trust. Together these three entities share a joint objective to strengthen and grow barrier free ecosystems of support around families ensuring  that all children have the right, and ability to be included.  They are proving that with the provision of an appropriate assistive device, knowledge to make informed choices and agency to action them, a family of a child with a disability will never need to experience their child as less valued.

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The ShonaquipSE team

Shonaquip is a 55% black-owned, woman owned social enterprise which supports families of children with disabilities through provision of rural appropriate and locally manufactured modular wheelchairs. Together these three entities employ a staff of 74, which embraces and welcomes diversity, reflecting the ShonaquipSE’s mission to actively engage in being the change they want to see and creating their own inclusive ecosystem for individuals with disabilities.

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ShonaquipSE’s guide to an holistic ecosystem

An inclusive ecosystem is one where all people can live full lives in supportive and enabling environments. Inclusion happens when each community functions as a holistic ecosystem:

  1. Barriers, perceptions, and local referrals

If communities talk about disability issues openly, address local barriers in their area and build local referral pathways then children with disabilities will be less isolated and able to find information and services.

  1. Posture support and seating services

Appropriate devices and seating services are tools that can help a child and their family be more included. Training for therapists and seating practitioners will enable them to follow the WHO principles of device provision, manage outreach seating services to reach children who cannot come to the hospital, and enable more families to benefit from appropriate devices and services.

  1. Education

If caregivers, teachers, parents and therapists have the ability to adapt activities to accommodate children with different needs and understand that all children can play then more ECD centres will be able to advocate for inclusion.

  1. Learning and economic participation

If people with disabilities and their families access learning, mentoring, training and support they can become agents of change in the ecosystem and improve their chances of an income.

According to the 2011 WHO World Report on disability; “Globally 70 mil people require an appropriate wheelchair.  Of these 9 million live in HIC where 90% have the correct device, while 59 million people live in LMIC and only 5% have what they need. Globally 30 mil wheelchairs need to be produced, fitted, adjusted, supported & maintained annually to meet this need. The reality is that only 3 million wheelchairs are actually produced annually and WHO estimate of 5-15% of people who need a wheelchair can actually access one.”

ShonaquipSE manufactures a range of positioning and mobility devices, wheelchair cushions and therapy equipment, which are appropriate for both children and adults with mobility impairments, enabling them to participate in daily activities like playing, learning, socializing, or resting.

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ShonaquipSE’s range of ISO13485 certified positioning and mobility devices

For the past 7 years, Shonaquip Social Enterprise has worked closely with Botswana Ministry of Health & Wellness to raise awareness and assist with training to improve the lives of children with disabilities in Botswana. Following a shift in policy and planning, the Botswana Ministry of Health & Wellness put out a tender for the supply, delivery, and fitting of 250 specialized paediatric wheelchairs. Inyosi will be assisting Shonaquip in fulfilling this tender with the Botswana Ministry of Health & Wellness, which will in turn allow Shonaquip the opportunity to enter the wheelchair supply and delivery market within the Botswana region.

Inyosi Empowerment is pleased to be able to assist ShonaquipSE in strengthening an ecosystem which is inclusive, barrier-free, and welcoming for individuals with mobility impairments not only throughout South Africa, but globally – enabling many more full and prosperous lives.

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