At 11, Oscar Ekponimo would stare down the empty fridge and pantry in his home, hoping for a meal to miraculously appear for him and his siblings. His father had lost his job after a debilitating stroke and his mum’s nursing job earned a paltry salary that could only substantially feed the children once every other day. His only consolation then were his mother’s words telling him their predicament was temporary.
Now at 30, Oscar has created an app to prevent other children from suffering through the same problems he did at 11. His app Chowberry, a cloud-based application addresses the problem of food waste and hunger by linking stores to orphanages/NGOs. As food items near their expiration date, the app initiates discounts that grow larger as the items remain unsold and alerts local groups and NGOs to take advantage of the discount. The app also informs the users when supermarkets are giving away free food thus saving food that would have gone to the trash for orphanages and needy families.
In a recent interview, he revealed that his team of four completed a three-month pilot involving 20 retailers and fed around 150 orphans and vulnerable children. “Our system helped [orphanages] cut down on their spending by more than 70%,” he says. He also revealed his biggest challenge so far is the reluctance of get bigger stores to adapt his app due to red-tape policies.
Despite the challenges the app faces, Ekponimo revealed he can’t imagine a different life for himself. “I had several job offers from big [technology] companies over the past few years,” he says. “But Chowberry is what I am passionate about and find fulfilling. I want to see it grow and continue to benefit people’s lives.”
Interested individuals can volunteer for to work with Food Drive, another Chowberry-inspired initiative where he and other volunteers collect products within a week of expiry and distribute them to orphanages and homes for the elderly.
Video credit: ChannelsTV