FutureFive NZ - App born from poverty works to feed the hungry

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App born from poverty works to feed the hungry

Oscar Ekponimo, a software engineer, has created an app that works to feed the poor in Africa.

Ekponimo is no stranger to the impoverished conditions that millions live in every day, he revealed in an article by CNN:

"I remember most times there was little or no food," says Ekponimo.

"I had to go to school without food and got by with snacks friends shared with me."

"I always said in the future I would do something to ensure others wouldn't go through what I went through."

The Chowberry app is now functional in Lagos and Abuja

Ekponimo has kept his word, by creating web app Chowberry. The app connects supermarkets to NGOs and low-income earning people. Once connected, users can buy food that’s close to expiry at a discounted rate.

Ekponimo says he has had an overwhelming positive response to Chowberry and is seeing the immediate impact on the lives of the hungry.

"We met one lady who has six children and survives on 400 naira ($1.05) a day," he said. "She sells firewood and kunu (a local drink),” says Ekponimo.

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.”

The app was tested for three months and involved 20 supermarkets. Around 300 people were reached in Lagos and Abuja, and 150 orphans and at-risk children were fed.

According to Ekponimo, there has been heavy demand for the app to be applied to more retailers.

"We went from about 1,500 daily visits to double that. There have been requests and demand, people tell me we really want this, we're relying on what you guys are doing because things are expensive."

Estimates by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation of 223 million people in sub-Saharan Africa being hungry or undernourished from 2014 to 2016 would mean this is the second largest number of hungry people globally.

Nigeria is a ‘food deficit’ country, which means that the country cannot provide enough food to feed its entire population.

Ekponimo’s work is a bright spot for those struggling to feed themselves and their families, and he hopes to expand to make an even larger difference to for the hungry.

"It's been a wonderful journey," says Ekponimo.

"We're expanding our work and working on scaling to other parts of the country and to other regions and possibly replicating it in other parts of the world."

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