Exceed aims to establish a production facility for Prosthetic and Orthotic components in Sri Lanka. These products will be sold locally and exported across South and Southeast Asia.
This facility will be run as a social enterprise and profits will be used to support the provision of philanthropic services for those least able to pay. Exceed requires funders or investors to meet the start-up costs of what will be a self-sustaining enterprise with benefits for people with disabilities, the Sri Lankan economy and the P&O sector in South and Southeast Asia.
Interview with Ken McCrea,
CEO of Exceed Social Enterprises
The spring has brought some major new developments at Exceed: The charity has established a trading arm, Exceed Social Enterprises, which exists to provide high quality clinical PO services to those clients who wish to purchase a better alternative to what is currently available in South East Asia.
Profits from the venture will be reinvested into the charity, significantly contributing to the long-term sustainability of the provision of quality PO services to those unable to pay.
To head up the newly formed enterprise, Exceed has appointed Ken McCrea, formerly of the Blatchford Group. The enterprise will consist of private Prosthetics and Orthotics clinics and distribution centres. The clinics will provide high quality paid-for PO services which will create much-needed local employment opportunities, for PO graduates, ensuring that essential skills and expertise are retained in countries where they are needed most. The distribution centres will be established to support the clinics by providing a reliable and timely supply of quality materials and componentry for the fabrication of devices.
We caught up with Ken McCrea, newly appointed Chief Executive of Exceed Social Enterprises, in the middle of a very busy schedule to talk to him about the project. Ken will be based primarily in Manila – travelling regularly to Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Indonesia to both drive and support the establishment of the clinics and distribution centres.
Tell us a little about your professional background.
I started as an undergraduate in 1975 at Strathclyde University and over the next 40 years worked for the NHS in Scotland and numerous private companies in England and Wales. I joined Blatchford in 1993 and spent the next 21 years there, becoming Clinical Director in 2011. In 2005 I was awarded the Limbless Association Award for Outstanding Contribution by an Individual Clinician.
What first interested you in a career as a Prosthetist Orthotist (PO)?
I wanted a career working with people that had a technical aspect and the role of Prosthetist Orthotist seemed to fit the bill, as it combined both those elements, and all those years ago it was a new and exciting profession.
How did you come into contact with Exceed?
Exceed (then, The Cambodia Trust) approached British Association of Prosthetists and Orthotists (BAPO) asking for a representative from the profession to serve on the Board and, at that time, I was a member of the Executive of BAPO and having been at University with Carson Harte, current CEO of Exceed I agreed to try and help.
What is your new role at Exceed?
My role is to oversee the development of the Social Enterprise at Exceed Worldwide which will operate as a vehicle to generate income that can be used to support the core activities of the charity and provide additional financial security for an organisation that is dependent on donors and grants to support its work.
What is your vision for the new commercial enterprise?
We would like to see Exceed Social Enterprise become the leader in Clinical Service Provision in P&O in Southeast Asia, through a network of clinics: Improving the quality of service available and providing an alternative to those clients who wish to obtain a better alternative to what is currently available in the region. It will also present an opportunity for the new professionals in the region to work in a first class environment accessing all the latest technologies and hardware. In 5-10 years we would hope to be the largest employer of P&O practitioners in the region and also be a supplier of choice for other smaller NGO’s working in the region.
What are the big hurdles to this?
There are numerous barriers to making a success including a shortage of qualified practitioners, difficulties in actually setting up companies in five different locations with different legislation in each location and of course the financial strictures on a relatively small organisation such as ours where large sums of money are required to get the operations moving. Creating awareness and understanding of the P&O profession among referring surgeons, physiotherapists and end users is another hurdle which must be overcome. The extensive benefits of well prescribed assistive devices are still largely unknown in these countries.
What products will be offered at the clinics?
We will be offering a full range of advanced state of the art devices covering Prosthetics, Orthotics, Postural Seating, Mobility Aids and specialist Diabetic Footwear.
How does this differ from what’s offered at the teaching clinics operated by Exceed Worldwide (the charity)?
The free service currently provides polypropylene based technology which is functional and effective within certain parameters but does not offer all the latest technology which can greatly improve the client experience.
What can clients expect from the new private P&O services in SE Asia?
The clients will be treated by properly qualified professionals in an excellent environment utilising the most up to date technologies and techniques ensuring the optimal result for the end user. We hope that our clients will gain increased confidence, independence
When do you hope the new private clinic will start taking clients?
The roll out of these advanced services has already started in Manila and clinics in both Phnom Penh (Cambodia) and Columbo (Sri Lanka) will follow in the next few months. We hope to have the service in Indonesia up and running by the end of 2015. Across all locations we aim to establish 4-6 clinics in the first year of operation. It is a bold objective but we feel that there is sufficient demand and that we can meet that demand with trained professionals delivering clinical services in high quality locations.
What has been the most interesting aspect your new post to date?
The best thing has been the opportunity to work with an enthusiastic group of young professionals who are relishing the opportunity to work with the latest technology in an exciting environment that is ideally suited to the task.
Carson Harte, CEO of Exceed Worldwide, commented; "It has become increasingly apparent that charities must think outside of the box and find new ways of doing things. For this reason we are looking to a Social Enterprise model to generate income. Serving latent demand for private PO services, we will generate profit which will then be reinvested to ensure ongoing provision of quality services to those individuals who are less able to pay. We are delighted to have appointed Ken McCrea to head up this new venture. He brings both significant clinical expertise and a wealth of commercial experience to the project.’’