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How Map & Rank is Transforming Climate Risk Preparedness in Cameroon

Map&Rank Drones Cameroon
Jun 05 , 2024
Map & Rank Founder doing fieldwork in Northern Cameroon
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Amount invested $80,000 USD Funding Status active early period Founded in 2020 by Sikem Brice

Mid-investment update: Map & Rank

UNICEF Venture Fund is featuring members of its Climate Action Cohort. The company is now six-months into a year-long investment period and shares an overview of their solution, progress, and next steps. 

Tell us more about your solution. 

Our solution combines location intelligence, big data and machine learning to map and distil climate risk information to address the preparedness information gaps of flood and drought vulnerable communities. This is achieved by fusing inputs from drone mapping, weather data and community knowledge to generate actionable insights that guide the decision-making process of users in affected communities. 

Overview of Map & Rank solution
How would you describe your solution to a non-technical person?

Our digital platform provides a ‘go to’ informational space for community stakeholders to understand and receive decision support on local climate risk and adaptation strategies. 

How does your solution address climate adaptation, mitigation and/or resilience?

Our platform provides evidence-based insights to guide decision-making in disaster response, ensuring the best adaptation outcomes for disaster-sensitive communities. By enhancing the capacities of households and local institutions for planning and timely response to hazard events, our solution minimizes potential social and economic damages and prevents unnecessary loss of life that would otherwise be unavoidable without a robust data platform.

Climate hazards disproportionately affect children as they are more vulnerable to hazard impacts than are adults. Ensuring access of households in vulnerable communities to timely and actionable climate risks data will enhance the safety and livelihood of thousands of children.
Sikem Brice Nyuykongh, CEO of Map & Rank
What type of frontier technology are you using?
Map & Rank drone imagery

Drone technology and big data constitute a core suite for our solution. Drone tech allows us to generate granular maps of target areas with much higher resolution than is possible with satellite imagery. This is very essential in the African context where most publicly available satellite images are not up to date and do not provide adequate resolution for modeling climate hazards. We equally collect and process large volumes of data using big data and machine learning technology. This provides us an edge in aggregating the data to produce useful community centric trends that are actionable for frontline stakeholders.

What is unique about your solution and how is it different from what currently exists? 

Our platform offers a shared data infrastructure that allows for collaboration with frontline stakeholders in data generation and sharing. This promotes local ownership and management of data and builds a culture of trust between our solution and target local communities. We equally believe our drive to visualize maps in smart and interactive formats is a game changer in the sector. This is possible by using generative AI to allow users ability to query visualized data on map.  

Map & Rank Product
What value does being open-source bring? 

Open source offers for more efficient product development by giving us the ability to join and collaborate with a community of product developers whose talent we mostly can’t afford or will be hard to come by in our environment. More so, problem identification is faster as collaborating developers propose quick fixes and improvements to our public code thus allowing for more transparency and flexibility.  

How did you come up with your solution and what inspired you to form your company? 

Coming from a farming household, I have lived the negative consequences extreme weather will have on our farm output and our livelihoods. Many such years when we had bad harvest often was linked to extreme weather events and meant we will not have enough to live on for the year. There were many such families like ours in my community and looking around this problem only seems to get worse. In 2020, we started out by organizing community events and sharing board games in my community and other affected communities on how to protect themselves from the negative impacts of potential climate hazards. We became aware that our board games and workshops could not be deployed at scale to meet the needs of affected communities given the size of the problem. Building a digital platform to address the climate risk preparatory needs of affected communities that could be deployed at scale soon became our north star to addressing this problem.  

Tell us more about your team? What makes your team diverse? 

Our team is made up of varying skills in software, data, research and administrative work. Among us are those who have lived-experiences in climate hazards while some have had extensive professional experience in disaster risks management. We are a well gender balance team today comprising of 50% Women and coming from diverse cultures across Cameroon. Additionally, our team is a blend of English and French speakers working either onsite or remotely to build our solution.  

Map & Rank doing fieldwork in northern Cameroon
Why is diversity important for your startup? How does it add value? 

Diversity in our startup creates an environment for shared experiences and advancing unique perspectives necessary for driving innovation and progress in our solution. Having individuals of varying skills, culture, social orientations and views encourages us to collaborate in decision making and achieve refined outcomes. 

What do you plan on doing with UNICEF's Venture Fund investment and how will you use the investment to leverage additional opportunities for growth?

The UNICEF Venture Fund has enabled us to enhance the development of our digital platform, collect and integrate field data and collaborating with a network of local partners to use our solution. Joining the Venture Fund has equally given us valuable exposure and has sparked more interest about solution from a handful of organizations. We are now in a position where we have significantly improved our chances for collaborating with potential partners, enhance customer acquisition and equally raising further capital for growth.  

The UNICEF Venture Fund has enabled us to recruit new skills into the team and to expand our data coverage reach in Cameroon. This has been crucial to fast track our product development and reaching out to potential customers.
What challenges are you currently facing in building your solution and/or startup? 

Some key challenges we've encountered in building our solution include:

Lack of Access to Base Data: In some field locations, limited data availability hampers our ability to conduct predictive analysis and generate accurate climate risk forecasts on our platform.

Communication: Effectively sharing our progress, both big and small, is essential for promoting our solution and attracting an audience that cares about our work. However, we lack a social media strategy and overall communication tactics to adequately promote our efforts.

Frequent Episodes of Burnout: Our tight schedule often leads to stress among team members. To combat this, we practice mindfulness and peer support, which helps keep our small team motivated and resilient.

Map & Rank Traction
How can others support you in working towards overcoming these challenges?  

Mentorships; it is our belief that coaching gives us the advantage of clarity to navigate the challenges of building and running a business. While the mentorship needs may change at different stages of our company, our recent engagements with the Venture Funds mentors in business, software and DEI have been priceless.  

Partnerships: Key partnerships are essential to the long-term vision and success of our solution. Matching us with in-country and other relevant partners who could potentially adopt our solution or help it grow will be very uplifting.   

Interested to learn more about Map & Rank? Visit their website or contact the team directly via email at contact@mapnrank.com


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