Oscar is a young software design engineer using technology to improve the lives and well-being of communities. At 26 he founded Chowberry Inc, Africa’s first technology driven social business that improves access to food while reducing food waste. He was named in Time Magazine’s list of 10 Next Generation Leaders, and is a recipient of the Rolex Award for Enterprise in Applied Technology by the Rolex Watch Company. He was also named a Young Pioneer at Harvard Medical by World Frontiers Forum and most recently awarded the Creative Entrepreneur of 2022 by 50Next at the Basque Culinary Centre. Oscar is a member of the Advisory Board – Digital Communities to Ars Electronica and has served on multiple juries connect to issues of sustainability and the Food System such as MIT Solve.

Oscar Ekponimo

CEO, Chowberry

Business Location: Abuja, Nigeria

Type: Non-Profit Organisation
Year of Founding: 2016
CEO: Oscar Ekponimo

Mission: To improve access to affordable healthy nutrition for billions of food insecure individuals through innovation and enabling technologies

Vision: To re-order the food system into a self-sustaining decentralised one where human communities are empowered to control and influence their food and nutrition needs thereby guaranteeing their wellbeing

Business Model

Chowberry is a social business leveraging technology and innovation to reduce food waste and hunger via an electronic platform. The Chowberry app facilitates the discounted sale of food approaching the end of shelf life which are then sold at steep discounts. By aggregating food waste data and connecting non-governmental organisations (NGO) and customers to nutrition, Chowberry is addressing challenges associated with the sharp rise of food prices in Nigeria, while also helping food companies recover their costs.

Since its creation, Chowberry has grown to be a multi-award winning initiative that is re-ordering the food system and fragmented supply chain to achieve food justice. Chowberry is Africa’s first technology driven social agribusiness.

Relationship with Smallholders

Chowberry connects stakeholders throughout the food value chain. Food retailers and service industries (restaurants, hotels, caterers, etc) can upload their data on discounted items on the app. Chowberry has also partnered with food relief agencies that purchase the discounted items through its app to supply their feeding programmes in local communities.

Products Covered and Markets

The Chowberry app connects consumers to food and produce that is at risk of going to waste due to expiration (farm produce at risk of spoilage, dry stock from Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG’s) etc.) or poor sales (unsold food from food service industries). In addition, the app links businesses with food manufacturers and producers who make bulk purchases through an automated direct to consumer restocking process.

Chowberry operates in Nigeria, Zambia, Ghana, the United States and Trinidad & Tobago.

Innovations: Milestones and Expansion Plans

Chowberry utilises modern technologies such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence and data science. It is also involved in research and development (R&D) for food systems and works with technologic food scientists research and academic institutions, organisations and entrepreneurs.

The first model of the app, Chowberry 1.0, connected non-profits feeding hungry people to discounted food saved from being wasted due to impending spoilage, end of shelf-life or aesthetic defects.

The latest version of the app takes into account that food waste also happens higher up the chain and addresses the deeper roots of the problem of waste and unsold food faced by producers and manufacturers. Chowberry 2.0, offers a business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) food matching service that connects high volume consumers to suppliers and distributors. In parallel, it remain a secondary market for food at risk of waste or expiration.

Success Factors and Lessons Learned

Since its creation, Chowberry has facilitated the distribution of over 1.6 million meals to food insecure person and families facing food poverty, including Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in camps. With over 20,000 registered users, the support of over 15 non-profit partners and over 105 food ecosystem partners, Chowberry 1.0 has succeeded in saving over 30,000 tonnes of food waste. This has had an impact on directly addressing hunger and food waste, but also in helping food companies to recover costs.

The success of Chowberry has been highlighted through international recognition, including being featured on the National Geographic Channel and CNN. The venture was also awarded as the United Nations International Telecommunication Union (UN ITU) Young Innovator Award in 2013, the Quartz Top 30 African Innovations of 2017 and BBC’s Top 10 Innovations of 2018.

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