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Glenwood woman’s water-saving tap earns her recognition

After a car accident in 2008 which left her hand disabled, little did Stephanie Pons know what ideas she could come up with, especially something which would gain her international recognition.

GLENWOOD entrepreneur, Stephanie Pons, has been recognised for her innovative water-saving tap by the Global Cleantech Innovation Programme. Stephanie’s invention made it into the top 10 Cleantech and Energy Saving Innovation in South Africa for 2017.

Stephanie admits that she has always been solutions driven and enjoys making and creating things. In 2008 she was involved in a car accident which left her hand disabled and she was left with the dilemma of what ideas she could come up with that would earn her recognition. “In the accident, I lost digits on my left hand and lost the function in my arm and hand. It really made me look at things in a different way. I saw it as a gift, a positive experience. It was hard to open a tap and hold and fill a container, I didn’t realise the strength and balance I previously gained from the digits I lost on my hand. I started thinking and playing with ideas and innovated and tweaked until I came up with the idea for Touch Tap,” she said.

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The invention is in prototype phase, however she is very excited about how it works.

“I decided to enter two competitions this year, the first was an initiative by the Department of Water and Sanitation which looks at innovative ideas. I won the research category in March at the Durban Exhibition Centre,” she said.

Stephanie then entered the Global Cleantech Innovation Programme and was selected as a semi-finalist. She went into a programme which assists participants to develop more market investor attracted offerings and was trained to market the business to international investors.

“The course was via correspondence and was very intense. The training was made possible by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation and the Technology Innovation Agency and was funded by the Global Environmental Facility. It was an international programme along with six other countries. It was interesting being exposed to business ideas and thinking from people from around the world. We received cutting edge training which was fantastic,” she said.

From this, she was chosen as a finalist and won the most promising women-led team.

“It was absolutely incredible. There was a lot of interest shown in Touch Tap and the Vaal University of Technology has partnered with me to further develop the prototype to go into production stage. I am applying for further funding to make it happen and to get it into the market place,” she said.

ALSO READ: Umbilo water wastage a shock

Stephanie said her focus area for Touch Tap are rural areas where there is a limited amount of water and the need for it to last and not be wasted. She said the tap only allows a person to draw the amount needed, which removes the waste element. It is a mechanical tap with a diaphragm valve and, although it is very simple, it is very effective.

“I believe this tap is for everyone. This is just the starting point, but I want to take it into Africa and to export it,” she said.

She said 14 per cent of stored water is wasted by spillage or carelessness, but the touch tap would avoid wastage.

“The tap can be used on JoJo tanks as well. I have seen how much water is wasted when children play and leave water running. This tap will alleviate this wastage. Being a finalist in the competition gave massive credibility to investors that this is a viable business and a water saving solution. It is also affordable, easy to install and cannot be stolen. It is very exciting and through this initiative I would like to help encourage employment opportunities, especially for women, as I really have a heart for them,” she said.

Stephanie said she is more of an entrepreneur than an inventor, but that she has had many business ideas over the years.

“My biggest limiting factor has always been fear to take the idea and market it, but the car accident gave me an edge to get on it. I now have more courage. I am married to a man who is also dynamic and encourages me. This is now a reality and not a pipe dream, and it is very exciting, but I have to be patient, the wheel is moving,” she said.

In her spare time she is an avid trail runner and enjoys all sports. “I started winning my runs, and this also showed me that if I really put my mind to something I can make it happen. It is humbling, exciting and confusing. I have an active family with two children and two stepsons and we enjoy doing things together. We are an eccentric, colourful and out-there family who all innovate. It seems to be something we do as a family!” she said.


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