With the recent announcement of TIME magazine 10 ‘next generation leaders’─ which has South African comedian Trevor Noah, Oscar Ekponimo, a Nigerian who seeks to alleviate the suffering of hungry Nigerians through a software service that redistributes food to people in need and reduces waste at the same time, according to Rolex Awards Enterprise ─ was listed as part of the 10 next generation leaders.
On his Facebook wall, Ekponimo says “in 1999 I was 12 when I read my first TIME magazine article, fast forward 18 years I find my name in it. Should I cry, jump, run or just be thankful! for God’s grace Honoured to be featured on TIME Magazine’s 2017 list of Ten ‘next generation leaders’ with Trevor Noah. Never give up on your dreams. Anything is possible. Keep believing.”
The Abuja based software engineer started Chowberry, an application that links customers to retailer malls that have food products that would soon expire. The prices of those food products are often sold at discount prices. According to TIME magazine, as packaged food items get close to the end of their shelf life, the app initiates discounts, which increase the longer the products remain unsold.
Local aid groups and other selected nonprofits are alerted about these discounts and also when supermarkets are giving food away for free. Food that would otherwise have gone in the trash is instead distributed to orphanages and needy families.
Ekponimo had dreams of working with Shoprite to provide affordable nutrition to needy households and reduce loss due to expiration. Ekponimo has once complained of how Shoprite sells stale smelly food to customers in Abuja. He was told that Shoprite Nigeria doesn’t take decisions and he’d instead need to travel to South Africa.
The 30 year old software engineer was the only African awarded last year’s Rolex Enterprise Award. The five winners who are chosen by a jury of independent experts are given 100,000 Swiss Francs and are given international publicity. Ekpnimo’s project, which help feeds the poor received an award on the basis of his application Chowberry.
Ekponimo’s application was inspired by the hunger he experienced when growing up. He told TIME that the app was targeted at reducing food poverty and empowering people to have access to quality nutrition at a very affordable rate.