In a world where there are many in need, yet so much goes to waste, it makes sense that we should connect the dots. That’s exactly what Menna Shahin, co-founder of TeKeya app did, with remarkable results.
CWM: Menna, how did the idea of launching TeKeya come about?
It all started when I was at a sushi restaurant and I was shocked by the large amount of food remains thrown in the trash by a worker there. I asked him if I could buy this food half price, however no luck. I discussed my idea for an application built around fighting food waste with my husband. He immediately liked the idea, we joined forces and he eventually became a co-founder of TeKeya.
Was it difficult to convince food retailers and restaurants to join forces with you?
It depends, it actually brings you back to the basis of the problem of food waste worldwide, one third of food that is being produced goes to waste, which puts an enormous burden on society and our environment. In Egypt alone, 73kg per person per year gets wasted and this increases to 60% during the holy month of Ramadan. Basically, there are a few determinants that define why food waste exists, socio-economic, cultural and behavioral. Sometimes we face food retailers who would rather not acknowledge they have food waste as it might give their customers a bad impression of their restaurant or brand. Mostly we explain to them that having perfectly fresh food left at the end of the day is not bad at all and that they can actually still sell it to consumers at a reduced price or donate it to charity organizations using our application. When we show them examples of retailers that have joined forces with us it encourages them to try as well. Many restaurants liked the idea they can be involved in decreasing food waste, decreasing pollution and ensuring a continuous supply to charity organizations.
What type of items do you collect for your program? TeKeya app
The products offered on the application are usually nearly expired items, including unserved ready meals or baked goods in restaurants, items that have been kept in the refrigerator for a while, remains from open buffets and more. We are working with three types of what we call ‘Food Providers’ or ‘HRG’s’; Hotels, Restaurants and Groceries. Hotels mostly have larger amounts of food which we help channel to charity organizations in the form of donations. For the other segments, we help providers to sell their items at a reduced price using the TeKeya application. We don’t include food leftovers in the project. We use high quality food that might turn into waste.
Who does the food collected get distributed to?
Donated food is channeled to charity organizations who distribute it within the locations they oversee. Reduced price food can be ordered by anyone through our app
How difficult is it to organize logistically?
Basically our application has all the functionality that helps to connect providers with consumers, including charity organizations. Our team is always on standby for any inquiries if anything might be unclear during the process.
Since TeKeya’s inception we have been what is called, “bootstrapping”, actually self-sponsoring. The team is currently in contact with a few potential investors in order to get to the next level, which is scaling up our user base.
Have you seen this concept work in other countries?
Luckily there are several successful initiatives like ours, as today’s technological advancements make it possible to create virtual market places where the problem of food waste can be tackled. So far, we have seen examples in the US and Europe that have saved up to millions of meals per year. But our model is different because of the donation part and some other features.
Do you think it will inspire other communities to do the same?
Without a doubt, since the UN’s 2016 introduction of the ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ (SDG’s) we see many countries focusing on these goals, including Egypt with its ‘Vision 2030’ bringing together Governmental, NGO’s and Corporations to unanimously work on 17 SDG’s. TeKeya tapped into this development and it is our vision to become a leading platform that unites all key stakeholders involved across the Food Value Chain. We believe therefore that our mission will only be accomplished when we create and inspire communities around us to battle Food Waste together – for TeKeya that means ‘doing well as a business and at the same time doing good for society.’