“There are big things happening in Zimbabwe with the potential to impact the economy in a massive way, yet in some cases big decisions are being made based on poor quality data, or none at all.”
That is according to Tatenda Manyuchi, co-founder of Zimbabwean startup Ukhozi Analytics, which wants to change all that. The company is a provider of insights derived from earth observation satellites, location-based analytics, unmanned aerial vehicles, and other associated geo-information data sources.
“We go above and beyond to produce evidence-based spatial intelligence that enables our clients to make better decisions. In essence, we are a location-based information service provider catering for various sectors of the Zimbabwean market,” Manyuchi said.
This work includes leveraging aerial and satellite imagery to provide rapid visual assessments, helping emergency services to pinpoint hazards and identify damage extent for disaster response. In the business world, Ukhozi Analytics ensures bankable customer insights, helping business owners pinpoint trends and patterns.
Founded in 2017 by Manyuchi, an Earth observation specialist, alongside Tafadzwa Jakaza, who has a background in disaster management, Ukhozi was initially solely focused on providing earth imagery and the generation of geospatial visualisations for its clients. With the addition of chief data scientist Gugulethu Ndlovu in August 2018, the company evolved into applying data science to help gain a better understanding of the data it gathers.
“From the onset, the value proposition that was put forward by Ukhozi Analytics was the ability to provide timely and precise information regarding any biophysical phenomena. Researchers, conservationists, developers and investors often asked similar questions of “where” and “how much” regarding which ever phenomena they were interested in, and in most cases the information was not available,” Manyuchi said.
“Researchers and disaster managers were giving generalised statements about, for example, the total areas inundated by a flood, statements would be put out with contrasting figures. More recently, the country embarked on a massive solar project, however the location of the project area raised many questions as the area wasn’t best suited for that installation. Ukhozi Analytics was able to work with solar mini-grid companies to highlight solar potential in a particular administrative boundary.”
The startup has worked with a host of business clients as well as the Global Environment Fund, but remains small due to lack of funding. Manyuchi said this has been both a benefit and a hindrance.
“The self-funded approach has allowed the company to remain relatively debt-free, however is it the same reason the company has remained a small business despite offering emerging technology,” he said.
Ukhozi is looking for funding, but Manyuchi believes the best investor would be one who provides more than just funding, also opening doors through introductions and networking. Growth has been positive, however.
“Since its inception, uptake has been growing due to the fascination with the products that we have been providing. What began as an environmental service has now attracted interest from some of the biggest sectors of the economy, mainly agriculture and commerce. This year we aim to translate this interest into revenue,” Manyuchi said.
“The company is yet to register net profits during the fiscal year, just breaking even over the past two years, as a great deal has been invested in the technology that supports the company.”