Going hungry is a daily reality for an estimated 13 million Nigerians – but an enterprising software engineer is aiming to alleviate their suffering through a software service that redistributes food to people in need and reduces waste at the same time.
Oscar Ekponimo knows what it is like to go to school on an empty stomach. When he was 11 his father became severely ill and lost his job, and with it, the family income. “For the next three years we had little food in the house,” he recalls. “If we had one small meal at the end of the day, it was a good day.” This experience made him determined to prevent others enduring the same plight.
I saw an opportunity to provide affordable nutrition to millions of people while providing retailers with a sustainable system for managing the end of shelf-life. This is a win-win solution.
A software engineer in the Nigerian capital Abuja, Ekponimo developed the Chowberry app, which alerts retailers via scanned bar codes when packaged food is reaching its expiry date, enabling them to offer discounted items to low-income consumers or welfare agencies. A successful three-month pilot involving 20 retailers reached about 300 people in Lagos and Abuja, feeding 150 orphans and vulnerable children.
With his Rolex Award, Ekponimo will improve the software and scale up the project by adding more retail partners. “When I think of the millions of people who are food-deprived, counting on me to give them some relief, I am driven to make Chowberry a success,” he says.
Estimated number of Nigerians who suffer daily hunger
Nigerians who survive on less than US$1.25 per day