Impact: Scaling → Sustainable Scale

The SFI Program built the capacity and readiness of SkyEye Pacific (SkyEye), a family-owned and operated business headquartered in Samoa. In Samoa, there is a very nascent entrepreneurial ecosystem where there are few clear pathways for social enterprises to grow or find support. Frontier Innovators was the first grant program SkyEye accessed. It enabled SkyEye to build their reputation and organisational resources and capabilities to be ready to connect with ecosystems and players outside of Samoa and the Pacific to achieve greater scale and impact across their business practices.

Many of the Pacific Island nations have challenging logistics due to limited infrastructure. SkyEye develops mobile and geospatial technologies that are tailor-made to address logistics challenges in Pacific Island countries and meet local needs. SkyEye has service offerings in vehicle tracking, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) remote sensing, geographical information systems (GIS), data management systems, data collection tools, and mobile application development.

A key element of their work is addressing challenges faced by the lack of a national addressing system and inaccuracies in existing maps. This makes it difficult for small businesses to market themselves and to use e-commerce to grow their business. For example, offered Women In Business Development Inc  technical solutions to enable the successful delivery of Farm-To-Table initiative and Geo Mapping of 700 Organic Coconut Farms, among other solutions that are a first in the Pacific Islands.

SkyEye used their flexible funding under Frontier Innovators allowing the enterprise to expand its operations by bidding on more regional projects:

  1. Scale-up their GIS human resource capacity and tools adding two additional women employees
  2. Expand their ICT human resource and operational capacity in Vanuatu
  3. Upgrade UAV equipment increasing their range by 650% and certify UAV Pilots to Australian Standards to support climate change projects that require surveys of an immense area of land and sea
  4. Formalise and expand partnership with Women In Business Development Inc. to further provide direct intervention to rural and vulnerable communities for better living conditions.
  5. Reduce the risk of expansion and launch operations in Tonga earlier than they had anticipated.

SkyEye also received custom technical assistance related to impact measurement and business strategy from the Akina Foundation.

“The engagement with Akina to help SkyEye identify, verify and measure our social impact has been a tremendous learning and new knowledge for SkyEye, and we believe this has elevated SkyEye’s value and competitiveness compared to the competition as most organisations in the Pacific are not aware of how to identify, verify or measure their social impact.” — Sam Saili, SkyEye 

The relationship was so successful that SkyEye and Akina signed a contract to maintain ongoing business support.

“We are always looking for opportunities to further interact with other professionals. Locally, it’s difficult to find peers to talk to…When you’re connected regionally and globally, that leads to growing and tracking new opportunities and improved confidence.” 

Through SFI, SkyEye was connected to Dr. Catherine Bell and invited to participate and present at the World of Drone Congress in 2018. Through that linkage, SkyEye accelerated its learning of new drone technology and made vital connections to others within the Drone industry. “We now have qualified people we can tap into.” Additional human resources and connections to expertise enabled SkyEye management to conduct research that led to new product development and new projects, such as the mapping of Samoa and the expansion into e-commerce.

Shortly after the Frontier Innovators award, SkyEye became the first Pacific company accepted to the Global System for Mobile communications Association (GSMA) Ecosystem Accelerator program to help launch their app, Mau. Mau is an integrated platform to match supply and demand and facilitate the moving of goods between buyers and sellers. Maua intends to help consumers and vendors find each other using GPS to locate their customers or product directly. Saili noted, “We were at a stage where we thought some things were too big for us and we should narrow and keep to our lane but with the help of the FI and the fellow Innovators, we have embraced what we feel is our calling in providing our service that benefits many people and countries that require our services.”

The combined support helped propel SkyEye from ‘slowly scaling’ to sustainable scale. “The recognition gained from the Frontier Innovators award to SkyEye has been substantial. Government agencies are more confident in using our cutting-edge services, and we believe that it helped us secure further funding from GSMA and UNCAP.”

SkyEye is featured in the Frontiers documentary following the journeys of three inspiring social entrepreneurs