Solar Ear was one of eight startups represented on the Unreasonable at Sea session in Cape Town on Tuesday, March 26, as the seafaring entrepreneurs made their stop in South Africa this week.
Speaking to HumanIPO, Tendekayi Katsiga, general manager of Solar Ear, described the experience as “a learning curve”.
He revealed that Ghana and Kenya are the target countries for follow-up launches of Solar Ear.
Katsiga continued, relating new enhancements to the products that are underway as they plan to change the colour of the hearing aids to suit people with darker skin.
The team realised the products needed to be easier on the eye as they discovered it to be one of the reasons users stop using the aids.
“We are coming up with new ideas to make it authentic,” Katsiga said.
Plans to build a USB port on the charger to also charge other devices such as cell phones are also in development stage.
Solar Ear also employs hearing impaired people to build the devices.
In his presentation at the pitching session, he explained the significance of solar technology, referring to an African proverb: “The sun does not forget a village just because it is small.”
The sun powered recharger, which accompanies the hearing aids, is suitable for rural village inhabitants who do not have the comfort of electricity readily available.
So far, the four year-old startup has already made 3,000 devices available to children throughout Africa. They aim to reach the 10,000 mark in 2014.
Solar Ear is currently running a training program at the De La Bat school for the deaf in Worcester, South Africa.
Particularly interested in partnering with non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the team is hoping to attract US$800,000 worth of investment for further expansion.
“Africa can move forward if it leads, but what Africa needs is your input,” Katsiga said, addressing the South African crowd.
HumanIPO reported earlier today on the big opportunities the African continent holds for entrepreneurs.
Other startups interested to roll out their businesses in Africa include medical device enterprise Evotech which has its eye on Uganda and educational business guru-g, which is targeting for the South African market.