Class of 2022
In Nigeria, access to food is a challenge for many low-income families – FAO estimates that around 13 million people face hunger and nearly seven million suffer from severe malnutrition. As a child, Oscar Ekponimo also experienced the fear of not knowing where his next meal would come from. So, after studying computer science and attending business school in Lagos, he devoted himself to sparing other people of the same experience.
Oscar’s first brainchild was Chowberry, an app that connects grocery stores and supermarkets with NGOs and charities to put leftover and wasted food to good use. When it’s approaching its expiration date at the shop, the food is listed on Chowberry at a discounted price, allowing non-profit organisations to buy it and distribute it among families who are facing food security issues. Oscar’s brilliant solution contributes both to reducing food waste and to improving food access among communities facing hunger.
The app was the seed for Oscar’s Chowberry Foundation, whose aim is to achieve food justice – a more equitable food system in which health and nutrition, food system R&D and food waste reduction all play a part in empowering communities to live better. Already present not only in Nigeria but also in Zambia, Ghana, Trinidad & Tobago and the United States, the foundation has facilitated the distribution of over 1.6 million meals, prevented over 30,000 tonnes of food from being wasted in Africa and impacted over 50,000 households facing poverty in Nigeria.
Oscar’s latest invention is a revolutionary nutritional supplement developed in collaboration with Impossible Foods. The Chowberries are nutrition bites made from fruits and vegetables, enhanced with nutrients and packaged in algae-based wrapping that extends their shelf life. Oscar aspires to turn the food system into a self-sustained, decentralised ecosystem where communities are empowered to take control of their food and nutrition needs – and won’t stop until he reaches his goal.
“Access to food should be a fundamental right of every individual. The monopoly of big corporations on the food system limits the ability for communities to take ownership of their nutrition.” – Oscar Ekponimo