Oscar Ekponimo, Founder of Chowberry is a 30-year-old Nigerian with a dream of feeding the less privileged side of Nigeria, a country that reportedly has an estimated 13 million Nigerians suffering from hunger daily, and seven out of 10 survive on less than N400 ($1.25) a day, which is below the global poverty line of $1.90. A third world nation like Nigeria with a population of 188 million users, making it the most populated country on the continent has 60% of its populace living below the poverty line leaving a lot of kids with parents who don’t have steady jobs left to starve, Chowberry wants to change this in their own little way.
Oscar Ekponimo experienced first hand not having anything to eat at age 11 when his dad had a partial stroke and couldn’t work, his mother’s income as a nurse wasn’t enough to cater for the family needs, “I recall one instance when all I ate in a 48-hour period was a biscuit snack a friend shared with me at school,” he says.
We met one lady who has six children and survives on 400 Naira ($1.05) a day. She sells firewood and Kunu (a local drink). One day the task force seized her kunu for hawking in the street, and she had nothing. She had to feed her family on what she made. So it’s nice to see the impact of what we’re doing. – Oscar Ekponimo shared with CNN.
Oscar, a software engineer explains how he had the epiphany of starting the cloud-based application Chowberry, “I pulled [the can] off the shelf and I said to the shopkeeper, ‘Hey look, expiring in a matter of a week’. They were throwing away food that was still consumable because it had reached its expiry date.”
This was the start of Oscar Ekponimo’s dream with Chowberry, an application that notifies retailers in real-time when their food items are approaching expiry and lets them initiate discounts on them, which allows non-governmental organizations to distribute them to needy people. Through the app, those organizations can order products listed by Chowberry’s partner retail shops, receive a unique code which they present at stores and then take the food home. After a successful three-month pilot with 300 users and 20 partner retailers within Lagos and Abuja, feeding about 150 orphans and vulnerable children. In June, Chowberry signed its first official retailer partner.
I wanted to find an affordable source of nutrition for economically disadvantaged people. I could see there were a lot of organizations trying to solve the problem, but I also saw so much food being wasted. If food wastage can be addressed, automatically food availability will improve and the stress on natural resources will reduce.
Oscar Ekponimo’s dreams are large as he plans on expanding Chowberry which has helped 20,000 households across Nigeria, according to Ekponimo, and the app receives 6,000 daily visits. His work hasn’t gone unrecognized, he won the Rolex Award for Applied Technology in 2016. In 2017, he was named one of Times Next Generation Leaders.
A few items listed on the Chowberry site are as follows:
- Kellogs Cornflakes ₦240 — Expires in 28 days
- GoldenMorn ₦700 — Expires in 35 days
- Uncle Ben’s Rice ₦1,200 — Expires in 29 days
- Grain Waves ₦720 — Expires in 45 days
- New Well Cheese Nutcracker ₦180 — Expires in 13 days
- AFC Original Calcium Wheat Crackers ₦325 — Expires in 35 days
- Foxs Vinnies Biscuit ₦660 — Expires in 5 days
- John West Tuna ₦180 — Expires in 13 days
- Lahda Full Cream ₦375 — Expires in 7 days