Archippus is a young entrepreneur with big eyes and a friendly smile always on. He lives in Makeni (Sierra Leone), where he works for the Prosthetics Outreach Foundation (POF) at Makeni Government Hospital as component technician responsible for designing and locally producing rehabilitation components (e.g. foot shells, flexible foot keels and knees).
He has enrolled in the first edition of the Global MBA in Impact Entrepreneurship at University of Makeni, with the aim of transforming his work into a full-fledged social business, capitalizing all the knowledge achieved during the years as amputee and technician.
“My dream is to become an ambassador for all amputees and a role model to show what amputees could be in the close future in Sierra Leone” he told us when we met him first, and we’re sure he’ll fulfill his desire.
Let’s see what he answered to our questions.
- What is your business about?
My business is about manufacturing SACH feet for amputees through the use of local materials. SACH is an acronym that stands for Solid Ankle Cushion Heel and refers to a compressible heel wedge that provides pseudo-plantar flexion after heel strike.
- How was your business idea born?
At the age of 9, I was bitten by a snake. This fact resulted in the amputation of my left leg below the knee. I had to wait for four years to receive a prosthesis. The civil war of the 1990s left thousands wounded and amputees in Sierra Leone, and I wanted to help them avoiding the ordeals I went through. That’s why I began volunteering with the POF.
My objective now is to mitigate the problem of complete reliance on imported materials in order to fabricate feet for amputees, I only use local materials.
- How can your business improve the life of the beneficiaries of your activities? Can you give us an example of this improvement?
My business would improve on the amputees dependency and, consequently, help their social integration through the use of a leg.
When I first joined the component development team at POF, I was mentored from POF’s program director Raymond Pye to refine component designs and manufacturing methods. Soon I started prototyping new prosthesis. I tested my prototypes on myself and eventually designed a new, high-quality but low-cost durable prosthesis. I consider myself an example of the improvement I’ve mentioned; with one of those legs my rate of dependency has reduced. I feel much better now.
- What has been the main challenge you had to overcome in your entrepreneurial experience? How have you managed to overcome it?
The main challenge for every entrepreneur is generally finance, and so it was for me. Other challenges I had were machinery and corporation on the side of government. I managed to overcome them through, perseverance and courage to pursue what I believe in.
- In your opinion, what are the main qualities an entrepreneur should have?
The first quality can’t be other but courage. To be an entrepreneur you should also truly believe in what you do and put all your efforts and money in it.
- Is there a person you are inspired by, i.e. an entrepreneur or a particular mentor ?
Oh Yes, my mentors: Ed Pennington Ridge and Raymond Pye (POF’s program director).
- What would you suggest to a new-born entrepreneur ?
I suggest to be steadfast, to subject ideas to practical terms and always believe in what he/she does. To be a real entrepreneur you should never allow people to shift you away from your focus.
- Could you tell us a particular satisfactory moment you had in your entrepreneurial activity?
This is easy. When I see amputees I fit with my products going on with normal activities, I feel accomplished. This is the greatest satisfaction I can have from what I do.