Authored by WeRobotics Co-Founder Sonja Betschart
In October 2017, the team of “Zanzibar Drone Academy” won the Final Competition of our first Tanzanian “Drones as a Service” Business Incubation Program. While all four finalist teams put in a lot of hard work complimented by creativity and curiosity to win the Final Competition and receive TSH 10’000’000 to kick start their business, it was one of the two Zanzibari teams who convinced our jury, even if the battle between the teams was close. Three months later, it was time to meet up with the winning team and discuss their progress and their plans for 2018. And what better place to discuss progress then in Zanzibar’s beautiful Stone Town, sitting with the team for the morning enjoying spiced coffee and tea.
We were very touched to learn that the 4 team members of Zanzibar Drone Academy decided to team up with the second Zanzibari Finalist team, the 3 team members of “Disaster Management Society”, in order to create a joint approach on how to move forward and incubate their business. One of the many learnings they took away from our program was the fact that you are stronger as a team. Zanzibar being a relatively small island, hence small market, both teams believe that teaming up in one company will give them a better chance at being successful. A wise choice! The seven team members incorporated their new company, called “Drone Wings” in January and are currently finalising the setup of the company.
The team of Drone Wings has been busy in January not only with establishing their company. Members of their team have been selected by their university, State University of Zanzibar (SUZA), to represent Tanzania in the African Grand Challenge 2018, an event organized by the Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology (NM-AIST). This was the first time ever a team from Zanzibar represented Tanzania in this yearly challenge, competing against teams from Nigeria, Burundi, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda as well as the institution’s own team. Though they did not win the challenge, it gave them exposure to yet another business competition, challenging them to keep on working on their business model and entrepreneurial skills.
And the Drone Wings team still wants to move forward with the project they presented at the African Grand Challenge. The project aims at mapping the habitat of the Red Colobus Monkeys in Jozani Forest on Zanzibar. The monkeys’ habitat is endangered by human activities such as poaching and illegal logging and the project’s goal is to identify hot spots of human activity and map the current extend of logging. This first project is planned in collaboration with the Department of Forest and Natural Resources, in order to demonstrate the added value of data acquired by drones and the new possibilities such data brings for decision making processes. The first step for the team is now to work on the detailed project plan to then find funding. Both Tanzania Flying Labs and WeRobotics will support Drone Wings throughout this process with mentorship and technical advice.
We wish Drone Wings all the success for their first months of business and look forward supporting them not only in their first project but for the many to come!