The 44-year-old from Port Elizabeth is taking home R3m in venture funding to roll out groundbreaking new technology that has the potential to completely revolutionise women’s healthcare, particularly in the field of early breast-cancer detection.
His journey is truly remarkable, overcoming severe visual impairment to achieve his doctorate. He is now working tirelessly to positively change the lives of others. Today, he boasts qualifications in biotechnology, biochemistry, and bioinformatics, despite being completely blind in his right eye and having extremely limited vision in his left eye.
His commitment to his studies and perseverance saw him receiving multiple academic scholarships for his tertiary studies. But, while in his second year of studies, he was asked by university staff to rather switch to a degree in mathematics and statistics on account of his poor eyesight, which had made studying more difficult.
“I ended up doing so, but I was very unhappy and found myself on the verge of deregistering from the institution. Then I stumbled across an article on the amazing story of Timothy Cordes, a medical doctor from the United States of America who is totally blind.
“With this story in my hand, I went back to the biotechnology department to say that if Cordes could do it, so could I. And on that basis, I was finally given permission to re-register for biological sciences and I went on to complete my Ph.D,” says van Vuuren.
The result of two years of dedicated research, van Vuuren’s latest innovation could represent a significant step forward in the struggle against breast cancer – one of the most prevalent forms of cancer in the world.
Pending the receipt of his patent and the various approvals needed from the relevant medical authorities, van Vuuren required financial assistance to help place his product into mass production and launch it into the market. He approached the Department of Trade and Industry but experienced a severe delay in receiving feedback – which is when he decided to enter the MotiMoves entrepreneurship programme.
Launched and managed by renowned business leader and billionaire Zunaid Moti, MotiMoves is a free online entrepreneurship programme dedicated to empowering aspiring entrepreneurs with practical business information. In addition to providing expert business mentorship and advice through an ongoing webinar series, MotiMoves runs a monthly competition for entrepreneurs to submit their business proposals for potential funding.
Each month, one individual with an outstanding proposal will receive R50,000 to invest in their business, exclusive use of a Porsche 911 for a month, personalised mentorship sessions with Zunaid Moti, as well as a chance to receive a share of R30 million in venture funding.
In recognition of the immense importance of van Vuuren’s work for women around the world, his proposal not only received the monthly prize but also a partnership agreement with Moti which included a R3m portion of the grand prize jackpot.
“We can see that van Vuuren has had numerous opportunities to quit and to relinquish his pursuit; but he tenaciously persevered. This resilient spirit is a testament to his exceptional entrepreneurial qualities and his unwavering dedication to realising his ambitious dreams,” Moti adds.
“Having thoroughly evaluated his business proposal and recognising the extraordinary potential of his idea, as well as the innovative technology he is currently developing, I am confident that he will triumph. The narrative of his journey and the impact of his work are truly awe-inspiring.”
“On behalf of MotiMoves, it is with great pride that we provide funding for van Vuuren's revolutionary endeavours that will contribute to the betterment of society. Moreover, our commitment extends beyond financial support as my team and I will offer ongoing mentorship, business guidance, and access to our networks to ensure his groundbreaking innovation succeeds.
“Anticipation builds as we eagerly await van Vuuren's forthcoming disclosure of the intricacies of his trailblazing medical invention for the betterment of South Africa and the global community in the coming months.
“It is exactly this type of pioneering mindset and tenacious attitude that I am looking for in other entrepreneurs to help make their business ambitions a reality,” Moti concludes.
For individuals interested in participating in the next MotiMoves webinar and/or entrepreneurs’ competition, registration is open here.