Tippy Tap: COVID-19 Response & Prevention Challenge Finalist

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, every prevention and precautionary measure is being explored to help curb and fight the effects of the virus.  Tippy Tap Engineering, a Zimbabwean start-up which specialises in providing hygienic solutions and innovations, is reducing the risk and spread of COVID-19 with their foot-operated tap for hand washing. Beyond the risk of the virus, a foot-operated tap system also aids in the reduction of water wastage, a crucial benefit in a country facing extreme water shortages. By creating their own environmentally friendly and easy to use Tippy Tap, the business has made some headway in helping the country fight the pandemic.

Tippy Tap was founded by Elton Mudariki (25) and Petros Mazvi (52) in 2018, and registered in October that same year as a Private Business Corporation (PBC). Elton Mudariki finished high school from Hamilton High in Bulawayo, commercials class of 2013. From there, he joined the family solar energy business as a salesman but his entrepreneurship skills improved immensely after attending the Young Entrepreneur Program (YEP) training workshop in  Gweru which prompted him to start his own company.  Mudariki knew that he could not do it alone and therefore partnered with Petros Mazvi, an experienced arch welder with more than 25 years experience in various products such as window frames, scotch cart, gates, fencing poles and other metal structures and artifacts. The two gentlemen realised that combining their strengths would achieve more than working alone or hiring a contractor. Their most popular engineering product sprouted from the tragic cholera epidemic in 2018. The outbreak  resulted in 8, 535 cumulative cases, including 163 laboratory-confirmed cases, and 50 reported deaths.

Mudariki was concerned about the health risks involved with sharing and touching the same tap to wash hands as it could spread germs as well as the water scarcity prevalent in the country. In a space with similar solutions, Mudariki & co decided to use a foot operator to keep hands away from the tap. The company also has vast experience in the procurement of durable and cost-effective raw materials which is advantageous to the end consumer.  Tippy Tap Engineering targets schools, hospitals and churches for bulk purchases. As with most entrepreneurial journeys, theirs has not come without  challenges. The main challenge they face  is the lack of morden business skills as well as issues on the procurement side due to a scarcity of raw materials and ever-increasing prices. This has had a negative effect on their bottom line. Tippy Tap also has insufficient capital to improve the stock of finished products and procure manufacturing equipment. To attempt to deal with the concern of capital, Tippy Tap Engineering now employs a flex pricing business model that targets communities at household level. This has proven to be quite sustainable to the business as it has managed to make reasonable profits.

 

Tippy Tap Engineering future plans include customising their main product, patenting & franchising the product. They also seek to increase their sanitation product portfolio by introducing new products such as foot operated hand sanitizers.

When asked about the Youth Connekt experience Mudariki stated, “the Youth Connekt experience was very good and it’s a time I was waiting  for, to receive such business guidance and funding. It’s an amazing experience! A hunter’s dream is to make a kill, a farmer’s dream-bumper harvest, a student’s dream-best results and a dream of an entrepreneur is to make a pitch that rewards with funding and this is what I got from Youth Connekt. I’m happy, we are proud as a business. To other start-ups who wish to work with the Youth Connekt family, I encourage them to start by formalising their operations and try to choose a business that adds value, be it as simplistic as mine. For the love, the guidance, the care, grooming, the exposure, the support and most importantly the funding award I Mudariki, Elton and Tippy Tap Engineering are forever grateful. ” What are your thoughts on the hands-free washing mechanism, what more do you think can be done to introduce such innovations in our communities?

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