How can a partnership be established between actors from Austria and countries of the Global South to jointly develop a business model for assistive technology for blind and visually impaired people in Zimbabwe that generates local value?

Target group

  • Blind and severely visually impaired school children, blind students and blind young adults in education and looking for jobs in African countries (mainly Zimbabwe). 
  • Local population benefiting from local value creation (workers, entrepreneurs, etc.)

Framework conditions

Industrialised nations: Assistive technology products are niche products and highly specialised. They are expensive to produce in industrialised countries because of the relatively small quantities involved (development, production and assembly, certification, distribution). 

Low-wage countries: Here the conditions are in fact reversed. The market is completely untapped and the demand for even simple devices (as long as they meet the climatic conditions) is many times higher. Because of the high quantities, the „economy of scale“ would take full effect here and make significantly cheaper products possible.

Economic framework conditions: An improvement of the situation seems only possible by reshuffling the cards with a disruptive approach.

Technical: that simpler solutions are used for high volume production at lower manufacturing costs.

Logistically: that at least finishing, distribution and maintenance is moved directly to the target countries. Value creation, know-how gain, empowerment and job generation locally/regionally in African countries. The growing „maker community“ in African countries gives reason for hope.

About Tetragon 

Tetragon is an Austrian start-up company that has developed a concept for various braille devices based on the „BrailleRing“ through which blind and visually impaired people in low-wage countries should also have access to modern assistive technology. The components of the ecoBRAILLE kit system for Braille displays are manufactured in Austria and sold to low-wage countries for assembly and distribution, including the necessary know-how, at cost price. A kit for Braille typewriters (ecoTYPE) and Braille printers (ecoBOSS) is also being developed.

Date Follow-Up Session: 28 November 2023, 1 – 2 p.m.

Note: This team will work in English during the workshop to enable the participation of local experts.

More information about the co-creation workshop 2023