Sorenson Impact Foundation is thrilled to welcome Participant Assistive Products into our Program-Related Investment portfolio.
Participant Assistive Products is a seed stage social enterprise that makes affordable assistive products like Cub, a world class wheelchair for children with Cerebral Palsy. Participant’s product line includes wheelchairs for people in urban areas as well as all-terrain wheelchairs for people in rural areas that do not have access to pavement traditional wheelchairs normally require. As the first medical device B-Corp, Participant offers a market-based answer to the World Health Organization’s call for affordable solutions, and their mission to increase the social and economic participation of people with disabilities by offering high quality and affordable assistive products is close to the hearts of those within the Sorenson Impact ecosystem which has a longstanding commitment to improving the lives of people with disabilities.
Only 10% of children in low and middle income countries requiring a wheelchair have access to one due to cost barriers, quality and terrain concerns, and last mile supply chain issues. Participant increases access by reducing these friction points. Its high quality and clinically-approved wheelchairs are available at an affordable price point, and their existing distributor/NGO relationships eliminate last mile delivery barriers enabling the company to provide wheelchairs to people with disabilities at low and no cost to the user.
Our decision to invest in Participant is driven by the company’s mission and impact alignment, potential to shape the market, and the experience and vision of the leadership team. Participant has created a line of products uniquely designed to address the needs of individuals living with disabilities in low and middle income countries. Their chairs are clinically-sound, capable for use in rugged terrain, durable, feature-rich and enable users to sit in classrooms for longer and minimize pressure sores and postural damage, yet their chairs are also affordable. Furthermore, leading global NGOs have called for solutions that provide wheelchairs to individuals in resource-constrained markets. UNICEF, for instance, is dedicating substantial resources to the model that can accomplish this. To date, Participant is the only commercially-viable solution to provide affordable yet high quality products at scale.
Co-Founder and CEO Keoke King has dedicated his life to solving this critical, and he has been iterating on solutions for decades. As a product engineer, salesperson, and supply chain manager for UCP Wheels for Humanity, CLASP, and Whirlwind Wheelchairs, Keoke developed supply-chain specific solutions to wheelchair access and developed best-in-class design. His deep and comprehensive understanding of the industry in conjunction with his entrepreneurial vision and scrappiness gives the Sorenson Impact Foundation team tremendous conviction in his abilities to deliver on Participant’s impact and business model.
Our catalytic capital will support Participant Assistive Products to research and develop new products and power accessories as well as penetrate the market with their existing Cub product. We look forward to supporting Keoke King and team as they scale Participant’s reach and impact.