We’re still celebrating powerful women doing amazing things in the continent and this week, we decided to also include young African women who are making significant strides in the tech space. Maybe you don’t know her yet but you will soon, her invention is about to take the world by storm.
Allow us to introduce you to Kutullo Makgatho, a 24 year old innovator born in South Africa’s Limpopo province, who recently invented a baby monitor. Kutullo had always dreamed of becoming a medical doctor but unfortunately, she didn’t get accepted which resulted in her choosing to study IT. The BSc graduate recently sat down with our journalist to tell us more about her new invention.
Nunn: Tell us about your invention, what was the inspiration behind it?
I wasn’t happy in the Tech field, my passion for gynaecology and paediatrics kept haunting me, going back to school was not an option. During my high school and tertiary days most of my friends where having babies and I was fully involved in their pregnancy and birth, unfortunately a friend of mine lost their child- she just woke up during the night and realized her baby hasn’t woken up for her night feed, when she checked her baby, it was too late. There’s no cause, no prevention, no cause, no predicting when it’ll happen. SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) that became my enemy, I had to find a way to beat this monster. That’s when I came up with the Fema baby monitor.
Nunn: How does the monitor work?
FEMA baby monitor is a wristband for the mother and an anklet for the baby- if the baby’s pulse/heartrate goes higher or lower than set parameters, the wristband of the mother will vibrate to alarm the mother. That way she will know if the baby stops breathing and wake or perform CPR, it’s that easy to save your baby from SIDS, the problem was knowing when it occurs. The monitor does the same for temperature and as well as the sounds made by the baby while sleeping in the other room. It allows the mother to monitor the baby while handling other tasks in the house e.g. cleaning or cooking. It’s a water proof device and therefore can be worn in the shower or while taking a bath.
Nunn: Has the product been tested on the market, what has the response been?
Not yet, its still a prototype, trying to find funds to further develop and produce the product.
Nunn: As a female entrepreneur/innovator, what are some of the challenges you’ve encountered?
Funds Fund Funds but I think it’s the struggle of many entrepreneurs, male or female but what I think was the biggest challenge as a female was when engineers and engineering companies thought I’m just a dreamer and that I don’t understand technology. My product is impossible to make. I had to prove to them by building it myself, going to local electronic hardware shops and building my own prototype from scratch. That’s only then that they gave me attention.
Nunn: How do you plan on improving the product moving forward and where do you see your company in 3 years?
I plan to make it as stylish and small as possible, the comfort of the mother and baby are most important to me. I wish to have my own factory employing women only, producing all the company products, bringing peace of mind, comfort and style to mothers all over South Africa.
Nunn: What advice do you have for young female innovators who have ideas but don’t know where to start?
Collect all skills needed to make your idea a success, no one is going to do it for you, when your effort is realised, help will come your way. Never lose hope and keep the passion burning. Never let time discourage you. Innovation takes a very long time, that’s the reality.