Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Pakistani-American Student Entrepreneur Takes On World Hunger

Hannah Dehradunwala, a Pakistani-American student at New York University, has co-founded Transfernation, a nonprofit startup with the aim of alleviating hunger beginning with New York City and Karachi. She has partnered with a fellow NYU student Samir Goel, an American of Indian descent. It's essentially an app and a website that enable leftover food at restaurants and corporate events to be distributed to the hungry.

Within hours of  Transfernation’s official launch on Oct.16 in conjunction with The Resolution Project’s New York City Gala, Dehradunwala and Goel had already overseen the transfer of 85 pounds of food leftovers from the Gala event to Bowery Mission, a social institution providing homeless New Yorkers with immediate help and long-term recovery programs, according to USA Today.

“Our gala celebrated sustainable living, and Transfernation enhanced the sustainability of the evening by making sure that any unused food from the event went to those who need it at the Bowery Mission,” George Tsiatis of the Resolution Project told USA Today.

In Karachi, Transfernation’s Pakistani subsidiary is currently in the process of building partnerships with local restaurants to transfer large food leftovers to charitable shelters. Hannah's friends in Pakistan are leading that effort. Transfernation is set to launch projects in Oxford, U.K. and Karachi, Pakistan later this academic year.

Data shows that vast amounts of food at restaurants and corporate and private events are wasted every day---food which could help dramatically reduce hunger. According to a recent report by UNEP and the World Resources Institute (WRI), about one-third of all food produced worldwide, worth around US$1 trillion, gets lost or wasted in food production and consumption systems. When this figure is converted to calories, this means that about 1 in 4 calories intended for consumption is never actually eaten. In a world full of hunger, uncertain food prices, and social unrest, these statistics are morally unacceptable.

Transfernation received $5,500 prize when it won the Resolution Project's Social Venture Competition at the Clinton Global Initiative University conference in March this year. Hannah and Goel are raising additional funds for the startup via crowd-funding site Indiegogo.com.

Here's a video of the young social entrepreneurs' pitch for their startup:

http://dai.ly/x2ajbph



Transfernation Intro Video by uroojnaz6

http://youtu.be/p2tDgXdlfOQ




Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Social Entrepreneurship in Pakistan

Pakistani-Americans in Silicon Valley

Pakistani Village Girl Launches VC Funded Startup in San Francisco

Karachi Slum Girl Goes to Harvard

Success Stories of Pakistani-American Women

Hunger in South Asia 

Pakistani Woman Engineer Wins Grace Hopper Award

Working Women Bring About Silent Revolution in Pakistan

Status of Women in Pakistan

Microfinancing in Pakistan

Gender Gap Worst in South Asia

Status of Women in India

1 comment:

Riaz Haq said...

Story of Pakistani-American Komal Ahmad of Feeding Forward feeding the hungry in San Francisco Bay Area:

It was 2011. She had just come back from Navy summer training and was attending the University of California at Berkeley to start work on her undergraduate degree.

While she was walking near campus one fall day, a homeless man approached her, asking for money to buy food because he was hungry. Instead of giving him cash, Ahmad invited the man to lunch. As they ate, he told her his story. He was a soldier recently returned from Iraq and had a bad turn of luck.

"He'd already gone on two deployments and now he's come back, he's 26 and on the side of the road begging for food," Ahmad said. "It just blew my mind."

It bothered her so much that she decided to do something about it. Within a few months, Ahmad set up a program at UC Berkeley called Bare Abundance that allowed the school's dining halls to donate excess food to local homeless shelters. With that program, she then joined forces with a nationwide group called Food Recovery Network, which currently has food recovery projects on more than 140 college campuses across the US.

Ahmad, now 25 years old and CEO of a nonprofit service called Feeding Forward, is looking to expand even more into what she calls on-demand food recovery.

Through a website and mobile app, Feeding Forward matches businesses that have surplus food with nearby homeless shelters. Here's how it works: when companies or event planners have surplus food, they tap the Feeding Forward app and provide details of their donation. A driver is dispatched to quickly pick up the leftovers and deliver them to food banks.

"Imagine a football stadium filled to its brim," Ahmad said. "That's how much food goes wasted every single day in America."

Excess food is a serious issue in the US. After paper, food scraps are the nation's second largest source of waste, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency. Leftovers fill 18 percent of landfills and make up over 30 million tons of what is sent to dumps each year. When cut off from oxygen, the organic matter creates methane gas and contributes to global warming.


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Another problem is that leftovers are perishable, so they need to be distributed or refrigerated quickly. Matching donors with recipients on a fast timeline can be tricky. Ahmad said Feeding Forward's biggest bottleneck is figuring out which food banks can take large quantities of leftovers immediately.

Berkenkamp, from the NRDC, believes on-demand apps like Feeding Forward can help solve this distribution problem, because they systematize the process of matching donors with recipients.

"These mobile apps can connect the dots in our food system," Berkenkamp said. "To have technology that connects in real-time is critical. It's a real advance."

While the amount of food being recovered with on-demand apps isn't much compared with what's being tossed, the technology is starting to make a dent in food waste and in feeding people in need. Moving ahead, Ahmad said she hopes to expand Feeding Forward to cities outside the Bay Area, including Seattle and Boston.


"These are huge cities that have absurd amounts of food thrown away every day," Ahmad said. "We are trying to make the Bay Area a case study to say 'Hey, if it works here, it can work anywhere.'"


http://www.cnet.com/news/feeding-forward-app-delivers-food-to-homeless-shelters-in-real-time/