Oscar Ekponimo has created a web app that could beat hunger. Chowberry lets charities buy food approaching the end of their shelf life at a discount rate from stores and donates the food to disadvantaged communities. Roselle Chen reports.
Chizoba Ugwu, a widow in Nigeria, was struggling to feed her three children. SOUNDBITE (English) BENEFICIARY OF CHOWBERRY, CHIZOBA UGWU, SAYING: "It is so difficult for me to get food to feed my family because I don't have work to do, so it was people's help that I manage to feed my children but now things will be better for me." Ugwa gets help from the app, Chowberry. Software engineer Oscar Ekponimo developed the app to reduce food waste in Nigeria by getting stores to sell their expired or about to expire groceries at a discounted rate to charities, which distributes the food to poor families. His own experiences of growing up without enough to eat inspired him to come up with the technology. SOUNDBITE (English) FOUNDER OF CHOWBERRY, OSCAR EKPONIMO, SAYING: "There was a phase in the family where my dad was temporally ill and out of work and I remember vividly during that time period the challenge at home was access to wholesome meal or quality meal, we could go a day or two without having a quality meal and this was something that affected me psychologically and also impacted on my academics and I always said sometime in the future I would resolve this problem, I would leverage my abilities and capacities to ensure that others don't go through what I went through." About a third of food produced around the world is never eaten because it's spoiled after harvest and during transportation, or thrown away by shops and consumers, according to the U.N. Ekponimo says Chowberry is helping get perfectly edible food, that would normally end up in landfill, to those who need it most. SOUNDBITE (English) FOUNDER OF CHOWBERRY, OSCAR EKPONIMO, SAYING: "Well we are looking to impact 50,000 to 100,000 households with affordable nutrition by 2018, by the end of 2018, and the long term goal is to have this platform evolve into a big data platform, and our value proposition is simple, simply plug the waste that is going-on on the food value chain and redirect what could have been wasted to those that need it the most." Ekponimo won the 2016 Rolex award for enterprise. He's working to develop his app further to help cut waste in more parts of the country and save retailers money at the same time.