For Oscar Ekponimo, growing up wasn’t a very smooth ride. At the age of 11, when his father fell ill, his family faced financial challenges that lasted for years. In an interview with CNN, he revealed, “I remember most times there was little or no food in the house. I had to go to school without food and got by with snacks friends shared with me.”
This experience sparked a dream in the young Ekponimo, and he resolved to help people facing same challenges.
According to him, “I always said in the future I would do something to ensure others wouldn’t go through what I went through.”
The dream to create a better life for the poor brought Chowberry into existence, a cloud based application provides an alternative affordable source of nutrition for economically disadvantaged demographics.
The app connects supermarkets to NGOs and low-income earners, allowing them to buy food that’s about to expire at a discount.
Chowberry enables access to nutritious food products for food deprived beneficiaries through an innovative value exchange cycle between retailers and disadvantaged individuals.
Through the app, retailers are able to scan item barcodes on packaged food items three months before expiry date. As the end of shelf-life approaches, the software generates notifications, initiating discounts that increase as the products approach their final date.
The service also helps to ensure all products about to expire are purchased and consumed by notifying low-income consumers and partnering food-relief agencies who require affordable food and have high consumption and usage rate.
Chowberry works with orphanages, faith based organizations who act as uptake partners, as well as interested customers and consumers who can purchase products nearing expiration for low prices.
In 2016, Ekponimo won a Rolex Award for Enterprise for his work, and in his words, “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.”
“When I think of the millions of people who are food-deprived, counting on me to give them some relief, to help alleviate their suffering, I am driven to make Chowberry a success. I can never throw in the towel.”
A 3-month pilot carried in 2016 reached about 300 people in Lagos and Abuja, feeding 150 orphans and children at risk, proving that the app has so far been successful at helping to transform lives.
Ekponimo further revealed that there’s however, the challenge of reaching the very poor. His hope is for more national retailers to join the scheme, as there are more people that need to benefit from the scheme.