Founded: 1992

Sector: Social Enterprise and Not for Profit

Location: Headquarters Cape Town, branches in 4 South African Provinces, active across Southern Africa

Website: and


Shonaquip is a social enterprise dedicated to building innovative and sustainable service delivery systems and mobility devices in order to improve physical access and the quality of life of people living with disabilities in under resourced and rural regions in Africa. Shonaquip is a community needs driven company and to achieve its aims works alongside Uhambo the Shonaquip Foundation, which is a registered Section 21 not for profit company. Shonaquip was founded in 1992 by Shona McDonald. As it enters its twentieth year of operation Shonaquip has branches in the Western Cape and Gauteng, with its head office and factory in Cape Town. Shonaquip designs, manufactures and sells body support equipment and other customised devices for wheelchair users. Shonaquip also provides clinical services, as well as professional and clinical training for therapists, rehabilitation workers, wheelchair users, their care providers and families. Since its inception, Shonaquip has helped more than 65 000 people in need of wheelchairs.

Background and Activities

In 1984, Shona McDonald's second daughter Shelly was born with cerebral palsy. Shona was determined to make life better for her daughter and became involved with a non profit organisation for children who could not speak. Through her involvement with this organisation Shona had the opportunity to interact with other parents of children with disabilities, and it was through this contact that she began to design and manufacture special devices for children with disabilities. Working initially on a non-profit voluntary basis Shona soon came to realise that to meet demand and because the work was becoming so time consuming, she would have to either stop what she was doing or go into business and charge for her services. At this time there were no other suitable products available in South Africa, the need was great and so she decided to establish Shonaquip. After seeing pictures of a special seating support electric wheelchair in a Swedish magazine, Shona made contact with the Bio-medical Engineering Department at the University of Cape Town, and asked them to build her a similar machine. This led to the first locally-produced battery-powered buggy, and the foundation of Shonaquip itself. 15 years after its introduction, many of the original wheelchairs from the first production batch of the buggy are still in use in rural areas of South Africa. With Shonaquip officially registered, Shona continued to design different products to meet the needs of the children she met. Working on just one item at a time, and improving designs as she went along, her range of products grew rapidly. Today Shonaquip is a healthy growing company driven by community needs and active throughout Southern Africa particularly in impoverished communities. Shonaquip has branches in four provinces of South Africa, employs 62 staff, of whom 27% have disabilities, and provides over 5000 wheelchairs and assistive devices per year to individuals in South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho and Zimbabwe


  • Actively improve wheelchair provision for young riders.
  • Offer a dynamic and sustainable service model of wheelchair provision for people in under-resourced settings.
  • Provide training and skills-sharing as a way of reducing secondary health complications.

Shonaquip's Vision

By 2020, the company will be the highest-impact service provider to people with postural disabilities in Southern and Eastern Africa.

Shonaquip's Mission

Shonaquip will apply best practice to research and design, implementing holistic, user-appropriate solutions that effectively empower people affected by postural disability.


  • Shoprite Checkers Women of The Year 2011 – Socio-Economic Business Developer
  • World Economic Forum – Outstanding Social Entrepreneur - South Africa 2010
  • Winner of the Ernst and Young Social Entrepreneur Awards 2009
  • Schwab Foundation Fellow 2009
  • Endeavour Global Entrepreneur 2008
  • NPI productivity award Western Cape and National 2008: Emerging business sector
  • BWA regional business award 2008: Social entrepreneur
  • SEDA Technology awards 2007: Best performing IT intervention
  • National Productivity Institute 2006: Small business award
  • SANLAM business owner of the year, April 2005
  • Louis Volks Humanitarian Award 2005, Lions Club International
  • Proudly South Africa, Company of the Year Merit Award
  • Louis Volks Humanitarian Award 1995, Lions Club International
  • ISAAC 92 BCI Consumer Award

Uhambo, the Shonaquip Foundation

Uhambo, the Shonaquip Foundation is a registered Section 21 Company and Public Benefits Organization in South Africa. Uhambo was created in 2010 as a result of Shona McDonald's commitment and dedication to people with disabilities in less-resourced countries. Uhambo, the Shonaquip Foundation was born out of the need for a non-profit organization to tackle national disability policy issues in South Africa, as well as addressing care-giver education and post-fitment support. Uhambo aims to establish a safe and effective network and sustainable model of distribution and support of assistive devices and associated resources which promotes and enhances the quality of life of wheelchair users in less-resourced settings. In addition to providing disability devices to those in need, Uhambo also focuses on skills development, awareness training and clinical support services in the distribution and maintenance of wheelchairs, particularly to clients who live in rural and semi-rural areas where these services are not available.

The meaning of Uhambo

Uhambo has several meanings, all significant to the work that the Uhambo, the Shonaquip Foundation focuses on:

  • In the Shona language, Uhambo means opportunity or it can refer to a particular situation that makes it possible to do or achieve.
  • In isiXhosa language, it means journey and captures several aspects of the goals and activities of the Foundation including:
  • Each beneficiary's personal journey to greater mobility, inclusion and freedom.
  • The journey of Shonaquip and how it has led to creation of the Foundation.
  • The journey forward for the growth and impact of the Foundation.


Uhambo focuses its activities on three key areas of programme support:

Research- Uhambo aims to conduct research on disabilities in Africa with partners to demonstrate the positive impacts of a holistic approach on quality of life.

Advocacy- Raise awareness and influence policy development that will directly impact people with disabilities in Africa

Gap Funding- Provide gap funding for mobility projects that are ready for implementation but short in funds for activities such as wheelchair provisions or training of clinicians or caregivers.


To enhance the lives of more people living with disabilities by:

  • Increasing awareness of and access to appropriate and innovative mobility and seating solutions
  • Facilitating the access to holistic client focused support services
  • Driving policy change and research
  • Advocating for and building an inclusive and empowered society for people living with disabilities


By 2020 the Uhambo, the Shonaquip Foundation, aims to be the highest impact network for people with disabilities within the SADEC (Southern African Development Community) region. Its sustainable model of distribution and support of assistive devices and associated resources will promote and enhances the quality of life of wheelchair users in less-resourced settings.

Contact Shonaquip

Head Office- Cape Town

2 Hemyock Road

Plumstead 7800

Cape Town

South Africa

Tel and Fax: +27 (0)21 797 8239



Contact Uhambo, the Shonaquip Foundation

Uhambo SA2 Hemyock Road



Cape Town, South Africa


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