Addressing for reunification in refugee situations

Map Project meets Agnes Björn from Plan International and entrepreneur Johan Attby to explore opportunities for supporting reunification of displaced children and families with the use of Map Project addressing app.

After having been selected as one out of three winning teams of the SAS Scholarship in January, a lot has happened for Map Project.

Map Project was awarded the SAS Scholarship in January 2018.

As a reward Map Project was given the support of a mentor.

In our case this came to be Johan Attby, founder and CEO of Fishbrain, a social network for anglers with over 6 million members.

“We clicked with Johan straight away – he’s such a nice guy and so knowledgeable. Right away, when SAS said his name, I thought it was great and when we met him, we knew he was the perfect mentor for us”, says Karoline Beronius, CEO of Map Project.

Through Johan Attby, Map Project got in touch with Plan International, an NGO for children, in order to discuss scenarios in which problems that Plan International face can be solved with Map Projects solution.

Plan International and addresses

Map Project met with Agnes Björn, head of Disaster Risk Management for Plan International, Sweden. She sees the importance and relevance of our product in giving children a formal identity, via addresses to access basic services, like health care.

Björn also considers the Map Projects’ solution to have the possibility of reuniting children and parents, who were separated on the run.

In 2015 Björn was working in a refugee camp in Tanzania and recollects the story of a girl from Burundi, named Grace, who she met there. Grace came to the camp as an unattended minor. “Grace actually had an ID card but she didn’t have an address or know what part of the city she lived in […]. This made it impossible for us to go back and find her parents or relatives to see if any of them were alive. If her address had been registered in the system, we could have let her family know that Grace was okay and Plan International was looking after her”, Björn explains.

Given the current situation, with 130 million refugees all over the world, a number higher than it’s been since World War II, this has been an increasing problem.

Map Projects solution can, with an effective and simple approach, contribute to creating a safer and more secure environment for refugees both during and after they have fled.

“I would really like it if our system could help refugees when they have had to leave everything by shortening the time for them to prove their identity, reuniting them with their loved ones or getting back to how they lived before the crisis hit them”, CTO Maria Cheadle comments.

A cooperation between Plan International and Map Project would mean a milestone, not only for us on a personal level but also for the reunion of refugee families.

SAS’ magazine Scandinavian Traveller has published an article on Map Project, our mentor Johan Attby and our cooperation with Plan International in the current issue, September 2018. To read online version of Scandinavian Traveller, please click here.

About SAS Scholarship

SAS Scholarship is a program where three winners with sustainable and innovative ideas and an ambition to improve the world are paired with influential mentors. Together, each winner and mentor tailor a trip around the world. The mentors support with knowledge, experience and their network and together with SAS, unique trips and experiences are formed that can contribute to the realisation of each idea. www.sasscholarship.com

 

 

Evening with Map Project

The power of crowd

Yesterday, 60 people from more than 15 countries came together to dig deeper into challenges around addressing and what modern technology and social entrepreneurship can do about it.   We had invited to an “Evening with Map Project” and wanted to test our ideas on the crowd, see if we could find supporters and beta testers among the group, and encourage students to do their internships with us.

Currently we are performing some controlled testing of the app but are looking for android users from different countries to be part of our early testers community. To be one of the first to have it on your phone, sign up here.

We learnt a lot yesterday and had an excellent time with this fun and active crowd. At the end we challenged the participants to write their address not using street names, numbers or postal codes. We are so excited to see if the letters get there and if have a winner of landmark address descriptions in the crowd  …. Will it get there? #kombrevetfram #thepowerofcrowd

 

How it all started

 

“We are meeting Anna who is working as a community health worker close to Isingiro, ask about Anna

when you get to Isingiro.”

 

Somehow it always worked out, we always got there in the end, but sometimes a short distance could

delay us several hours. Yet it worked. So I never questioned it much: when in Rome do as the Romans

do!

 

It was not until 2008, when I hosted a delegation from the ICT Committee of the Uganda parliament as

they were on a journey to study the Information Society, that I really got it. Not having an address is so

much more than not being able to find your way. It is about proof of identity and residence, about access to

services and protection of an individual. I thought something could be done with modern technology.

But, it would take time until technology was developed and cheap enough that one could really do

something about it on a large scale.

 

In 2015 I was working with an organisation that is improving child and maternal health services through

application of smart technology. We had been able to develop the processes to support effective

registration and child health follow up despite the fact that children many times lacked an identity and an

address.

After seeing how small developments, improved organisation and increased standardisation could

strengthen and make our work effective I thought that this must be done for all sectors and I realised that

we need to develop a standard to allow all organisations, companies and authorities to jack into that work.

 

An idea (or a few) began to take shape, and I started looking for people and partners to help shape the

technology and develop the business model. I believe having an address is a civil right and it was

important that we could provide the solution for free to individuals. In fact, six of the UN Sustainable

Development Goals will be very hard to achieve without adequate address infrastructure and many more

opportunities will be missed.

 

I have been very fortunate. Early on people got interested, became my sounding board and connected me

with people who could help me develop the idea. I soon had a small team and some advisors. From family,

friends to colleagues, and people in the wider European startup support systems, most of them said

“interesting, how, tell me more, …have you thought about?-..” I almost never had a conversation with

anyone who tried to dissuade me! At least not very often! I think this is important when starting a new

project, almost everything is possible, it just take different amount of time. Some projects require grit!

 

Today, I have a Co-founder Maria Cheadle who is our CTO and leads the product development. We are a

small and agile organisation and have won a few awards, among them Impact Maker 2018 in the Venture

Cup East Final, and SAS Scholarship. There is increased interest in working and partnering with us, and

two master students have done their thesis about Map Project. We actively looking for funding to take us to

the market!

 

 

 Karoline, CEO & Co-founder

Why addresses?

Efficient addressing systems are essential to reach the targets of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Map Project contributes to at least six of the 17 goals.

Many countries still lack a countrywide address infrastructure to enable communication between individuals, governments and organisations.

Addresses provides individuals with the opportunity to have a legal identity, enable them to exercise their civil rights and gain access to private and public services.

A well-functioning address system provides structure, organisation and transparency, and helps improve government planning, budget allocation and follow up. It supports effective birth registration, formalisation of businesses and transparent land and property registry.

With an all-encompassing address system, companies and organisations are able to reduce costs, increase efficiency and reach new markets to service the whole population.