In line with Space in Africa’s 2020 in Review series, we had a chat with Ineza Bonte, one of the founding member of FloodWiz, on what the startup has been up to since its formation in October 2020 and what to look forward to in 2021. FloodWiz is a Rwandan based startup, which aims to assist with disaster management by providing easy-to-use data on flood patterns.
Let me start with the basics, is FloodWiz a registered company and how many members form the team?
I am Ineza Bonte. I am a first-year student studying Computer Science at the Adventist University of Central Africa. We are currently a team of three. Pascalih is a second-year Statistics student at the University of Rwanda, while Ami Deje is a fourth-year student studying Computer Science, also at the University of Rwanda. We met at the Space Apps Challenge in October and decided to team up and create FloodWiz based on our shared interests. We are not a registered company yet, but we are working towards this.
What inspired the idea to develop FloodWiz?
The idea was inspired by the fact in Rwanda, we have frequent floods, every year, especially around this time when we have heavy rains. When you visit the ministry of energy and management, the data is not clearly laid out. If one wanted to research on disasters that happen, there is only a pdf with a lot of data that is not properly laid out. So what we did was visualize the data in such a way that people could access and easily interpret the data.
Have you formed any partnerships so far?
One of the companies we have spoken to is the Rwandan Space Agency, which was also a partner in the creation of the Space Apps Challenge. The Agency has helped us propel the idea forward.
Beyond historical data, how will FloodWiz be used to manage Floods in Rwanda?
When we created the application, we had 48 hours to come up with a prototype, this was before the Space Apps Challenge. To move forward from here, we are hoping to convert the product into an application, allowing local districts/villages to report every incident; floods, the level of infrastructure damage, and even the resulting deaths in livestock and people. After this, the data will be uploaded to our database for further processing. This will eliminate the challenge that the ministry has when it comes to the collection of this data. Currently, the application shows real-time data on which areas are experiencing / prone to floods, by showing the area of the land that is affected.
Who are you targeting with this product?
I think some of the groups that will benefit from this data include the Ministry of Emergency and Management, as they can assess the frequency of floods, and in what particular areas. Humanitarian Organizations will also benefit from this data, and schools which may use this data for research purposes.
When are you looking to complete the development?
We are looking to complete the development by next year because we are also students and have to juggle between school and the development which is also being done remotely due to the pandemic.
So by the first half of the year, we are looking to complete the main part of the development, then we will be looking to partner with other groups and institutions.
Flood Wiz was among the companies selected for the Space Tech Challenge. You are currently undergoing business development training. How has been the experience so far?
The challenge has been an amazing experience, we have interesting instructors and a rich networking platform, and a lot of other great ideas to learn from. We are currently learning about business management and how we can develop valid business models and plans for pitching which will be held next year.
What are you expecting to gain from the challenge?
We are mainly networking, so we are looking to connect with groups of people we can learn from and maybe even raise capital from potential investors who are willing to see the idea grow further.
You are currently using data provided by the ministry. Are there plans to incorporate space technologies in your product offering?
Yes. We see ourselves incorporating satellite data, especially for rainfall and general weather prediction which will, in turn, allow farmers and other parties prepare for potential floods. Mostly, this will depend on the type of data that is needed. There are free datasets offered by NASA, and also paid-subscription data by other providers, so there are costs to consider. Nonetheless, we intend to have this data as we complete the application’s development.
Njeri graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Finance, from the University of Nairobi and is a CFA Level II Candidate. Currently an analyst at Space in Africa, her experience spans across Project Finance, and the analysis of Venture Capital & Private Equity Ecosystems in sub-Sahara Africa, with a particular interest in Sustainable Sciences.