Giv­ing a hand to bring change

Finweek English Edition - - ENTREPRENEUR -

et h v a n As r emem­bers hear­ing her hus­band Richard shout from the front door: “Babe! We need to go to the hos­pi­tal!” It was a Satur­day af­ter­noon and she was ex­hausted and ready to rest. As she made her way down­stairs she thought, ‘Oh, what have you done now?’, but noth­ing could have pre­pared her for what she saw. “It was this grue­some scene and I thought, ‘Oh okay, that’s what you did.’”

Richard had just cut off two of his f in­gers and par­tially sev­ered a third while work­ing with a ta­ble saw in his work­shop.

The doc­tors were un­able to reat­tach his fin­gers so Richard started to think of ways he could get new fin­gers him­self.

Within a few months of his ac­ci­dent, Richard had de­vel­oped a pro­to­type of a hand, which could be at­tached to a limb with­out any elec­tric­ity or ro­bot­ics and to­day he is co-owner of a 3D print­ing com­pany called RoboBeast.

“Crafts­men al­ways cut them­selves, I just did a proper job. It was a freak ac­ci­dent and I had to get over it. Fig­ur­ing out how to fix it was my ther­apy,” he says.


Richard re­fused to stay in hos­pi­tal af­ter his surgery, say­ing he needed to get back to work and fig­ure out how to do it with one hand.

He went back into his work­shop and changed it around so ev­ery­thing was suit­able for a left-handed per­son. He re­fused to feel sorry for him­self be­cause he had a project dead­line for that week. He com­pleted it on time.

“It’s funny, the client had even sent me f low­ers but I didn’t want to sit on the couch and feel sorry for my­self,” he says.

Beth says the ex­pe­ri­ence was an emo­tional roller coaster for her at first, but be­cause she knows her hus­band well, she knew it would have dam­aged him more to sit back and watch life hap­pen to him.

Richard had hos­pita l bi l l s of about R180 000 and could not af­ford pros­thetic limbs. He started look­ing for al­ter­na­tives that would give him the same func­tion­al­ity at a lower cost. “A my­o­elec­tric hand can cost any­thing be­tween R250 000 and R500 000 and you can’t bath or swim or any­thing with them be­cause they’re elec­tric,” says Richard.

With the in­ter­net as his friend he

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