Advancing Medical Prosthesis Development in South Africa
With breast cancer rates on the rise in South Africa and globally, social entrepreneur Nneile Nkholise saw the demand for breast prosthesis rising and knew there was an opportunity to help meet that demand with an affordable product. Nkholise launched iMed Tech and utilized cutting-edge technology to develop affordable custom-made prosthesis and implants.

“Tech will be the catalyst that will spearhead the advancement of healthcare in Africa.”

A Technology Leader

THE CHALLENGE. Breast cancer rates are rising, and it is projected that the breast cancer prevalence in sub-Saharan Africa will double by 2050. The increasing cancer survival rate, driven by the growth in cancer patient care in South Africa and Africa, has led to many patients losing breasts due to the removal of tumors. With the increasing cases of mastectomies done to remove tumors on the breast, there is an increasing demand for breast prosthesis post-mastectomy. That demand is currently unmet using conventional methods of breast prosthesis production which is time-consuming and expensive. This has led to market demand in African countries but very few companies are available to meet it.

THE PROCESS. When Nneile Nkholise was completing her master’s degree at the Central University of Technology, in Bloemfontein, South Africa, she realized that there was a huge potential for use of technology in breast prosthesis development. She became connected to the challenge when she was doing research on the applications of Additive Manufacturing in facial prosthesis development. Additive manufacturing is a fast-growing 3D printing technology which is revolutionizing the way products are produced in modern society. The technology makes product design more efficient by automating processes that were once manual, such as conventional prosthetic production techniques. Nkholise’s technical background and her personal experience as an African woman inspired her to become a social entrepreneur and create an impactful company in the area of medical prosthesis development, using cutting-edge technologies and launched iMed Tech in 2015. Despite the financial risk — Nkholise initially relied on her own savings and assistance from her family — iMed Tech soon became a viable and successful venture, evolving into a company that leads the research and development of custom-made prosthesis and implants.

THE RESULT. By starting iMed Tech, Nkholise wanted to create a hypothesis which says that women have the power and potential to run businesses within the medical technology sector, and she achieved exactly that. Since 2016, iMed Tech has generated over R1.1 million in revenue and the success of the company earned Nkholise a spot as a Top Woman Innovator by the World Economic Forum. iMed Tech won the SAB Foundation Social Innovation Award in 2015 and in just two years provided breasts to more than 150 women for as little as R900 to R3300. iMedTech is also providing dental aligners through its LuluSmile initiative.

As a social entrepreneur, Nkholise has grand designs for iMed Tech and her career vision is to establish a medical prosthesis research and development center, with the vision of leading research in creating custom-made prosthesis for people who have lost essential body parts. She aims to create a company that will attract young people from the medical, bio-engineering, and engineering sectors to work and add tremendous value to solving a lot of health challenges using design and engineering techniques.

Neyne Prosthesis Packaging
Source: iMed Tech


iMed Tech is a biotechnology company that designs and manufacturers prosthesis using computer-aided design (CAD) technologies and Additive Manufacturing. iMed Tech is on a mission to fill the gaps of growing prosthetic demand in South Africa and other countries, and to use technology that enables the production of high quality products, that meet customer needs at impressive prices.

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Source: Lulu Smile

Making An Impact


A Social Entrepreneur Determined to Make An Impact

Lesotho-born and Thaba ’Nchu-raised, Nneile Nkholise received a Btech Mechanical Engineering degree from Central University of Technology in Bloemfontein, South Africa, along with a Masters in Engineering. She launched her career in 2011 as a mechanical engineer at the Free State’s Public Works Department, before founding iMed Tech in 2015. Her work at iMed Tech in CAD and Additive Manufacturing in breast prosthesis earned Nkholise several awards, including Forbes 30 Under 30 and the presidential award for Science, Innovation and Technology at the South African Youth Awards in 2017.

With the integration of CAD and Additive Manufacturing in breast prosthesis design at iMed Tech, Nkholise ensures that the cost of production of breast prosthesis is lowered. With this technology, iMed Tech is able to create a range of designs and shapes of breast prosthesis for women that will ensure that they get a breast prosthesis that is of perfect fit and comfort.

“It is humbling to know that I am creating a product which not only generates revenue but makes a difference in people’s lives, and that I am also educating and inspiring young people to follow in my footsteps.”

Nkholise values the development of young women in Africa and wants to utilize iMed Tech to create opportunities for women. She believes that young African women could be the leaders of future healthcare research and innovation on the continent and globally. As a business, she wants iMed Tech to be the technology leader in the creation of medical prosthetics, going beyond breast and limb prosthetics to printing of internal organs.

Source: The Next 100 Summit – Global Citizen



Nneile Nkholise believes that Harambeans offers a unique culture and opportunities:

“It is the Alliance’s conjugated efforts to ensuring that they build ethical leaders who possess the values of integrity, diversity and excellence that makes me want to be part of Harambeans. It is great to be part of a community of young people, with the passion to solve problems facing our continent.”