Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
Mr Petros Mazvi’s Baha’i faith led him to conceive a foot-operated hand-washing device over a decade ago.
The product has now become a must-have at many institutions following the outbreak of Covid-19 as it maked sanitising hands very easy.
Mr Mazvi of Gokwe under Chief Njelele’s area has so far sold more than 2000 of the machines.
A father of nine, who went only as far as Ordinary Level, Mr Mazvi who is an arc welder with more than 25 years experience making products such as window frames, scotch carts, gates, fencing poles and other metal structures and artifacts, said the device has been used before in 2018 in fighting against cholera.
He employs 14 people at a company which he registered with his business partner.
The idea of such a device visited him, thanks to his Baha’i faith which places great importance on the ritual of washing hands and the face with running water.
So, after noticing that fellow members were using a basin system to wash their faces and hands at Gokwe centre where taps are mostly dry due to water challenges, he had the idea of making a machine that could make the process easy. “So, in 2010 I had this idea to have a device that could make washing of the face and hands easy when entering into church. My faith places great importance on hygiene, that is washing of hands and the face,” he said.
Mr Mazvi said since he had the general knowledge of metal work from Ordinary Level, he was optimistic that one day he would come up with a device to realise his dream.
“In 2017 I made my first device and it was welcomed at my church as church members could wash their hands and face before going into church. In 2020, demand for the device grew following the outbreak of Covid-19. Due to the pandemic people needed to take precautionary measures to help curb and fight the virus,” he said.
He said he then registered his company, Tippy Tap Engineering, which is based at Gokwe centre.
He said Mr Elton Mudariki (25) whom he met long after he had come up with the idea is one of the directors in the company.
The company is also home to students coming on internship from Gokwe Vocational Centre and Kaguvi Training Centre.
“From my church background we are always concerned about the health risks involved with sharing and touching the same tap to wash hands as it could spread germs as well as the water scarcity prevalent at Gokwe centre. In 2018
I sold some of these when there was a cholera outbreak but that number has been surpassed since the Covid-19 virus outbreak. We target schools, hospitals and churches for bulk purchases,” he said.
Mr Mazvi has received support from Gokwe Town Council which has been taking his product to exhibition shows.
“I have orders from Binga, Victoria Falls among other places. The Town Council has been assisting me market my product. The price for one device ranges from US$35 to over US$100 depending on the material used,” he said.
The problem, unfortunately, Mr Mazvi said, has emanated from some welders whom he said copied his idea and are now selling the product at giveaway prices.
“I don’t know whether they steal the materials or not, but their pricing is absurd and if I want to follow it, I will get broke. They are selling at less than US$15, a figure that is not viable for me,” he said.
Mr Mazvi said they should have patented the product which would have guaranteed them sole ownership of the idea and the product.
“We seek to increase the sanitation product portfolio by introducing new products,” he said.
A member of Baha’i Faith Mr Matthias Ngwenya said it was not surprising that Mr Mazvi thought of the idea as water is fundamental in the rites, language and symbolism of their religion.
“There are Baha’i laws concerning water and cleanliness, and many ways that water is used as a metaphor for spiritual truths. So we advocate for cleanliness everywhere we are, especially when entering the temple.
So this device came in handy because we face water challenges in Gokwe. It’s just a matter of tipping the bucket using the foot and one washes the face and hands and is clean,” he said.
Gokwe Town Council acting town secretary Mr Alexander Nyandoro said they are helping to market Mr Mazvi’s product.
“In terms of patents nothing much has been done. However, we assisted him in marketing his products through clean campaigns, health promotions and State functions,” he said.
Article Source: The Chronicle