From the Series
75 per cent of countries suffer from poor or non-existent addressing. And even in the 25 per cent who do have a reliable address, packages still go missing, couriers get lost and local businesses can’t be found. Something needs to be done to make addressing better. That’s what motivated British entrepreneur Chris Sheldrick to found what3words.
what3words is a precise and simple addressing system. It uses a global grid of three-by-three metre squares, assigning each one a unique three word address. It’s more accurate than a postal address and more memorable than a long string of random-seeming GPS coordinates. It means people can pinpoint a specific location on the planet and communicate it more quickly and easily than any other method. The system is helping to optimise business, drive social and economic development, and ultimately save lives. The app is free to use.
For individuals without addresses, the lack of a reliable postcode can stop them from registering to vote, getting a passport, opening a bank account, or even buying something online.
Both Mongolia and more recently the Ivory Coast have adopted what3words as a national postal addressing system.
Mongolia covers an area nearly the size of the European Union. Its three million people are scattered across the country, from the bustling capital Ulaanbaatar to the remote and rural grass steppes.
With its semi-nomadic population and sparsely populated landscape, the people of Mongolia face unique challenges when it comes to delivering and receiving post. In many parts of the country, citizens have to collect mail from Post Office boxes, often kilometres away from their homes.
Deliveries to a specific address are often only achieved using descriptive landmarks – past the crossroads, opposite the gas station. Customers also provide a mobile phone number so a driver can call for directions. Yet still, failed deliveries are commonplace, inconveniencing customers, raising courier costs and holding back the development of businesses and government.
Now, thanks to the partnership between Mongol Post in Mongolia, La Poste in Ivory Coast and what3words, the citizens of these countries can enjoy accurate and reliable mail deliveries, wherever they live.
Since its launch in 2013, what3words has experienced huge success. In 2015, the company was awarded the prestigious Cannes Lions Grand Prix for Innovation and closed a $3.5million Series A funding round which was led by Intel Capital and included Li Ka-shing’s Horizons Ventures. The company has won – to name just a few – two prestigious Webby Awards, a Universal Postal Union Innovation Award, and was selected as the British Accelerating Entrepreneur at this year’s EY World Entrepreneur of the Year awards.