Dubai: Students to launch app for low-income people to buy groceries at discounted rates

The initial focus will be on vegetables and bakery items, with the possibility of expansion into dairy and meat products in the future


Nandini Sircar

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Published: Fri 2 Dec 2022, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Fri 2 Dec 2022, 4:59 PM

Students at a Dubai school are launching a sustainable initiative to support low-income people by enabling them to buy groceries that are about to expire at a discounted rate.

GEMS Modern Academy students aim to reduce waste from supermarkets and grocery stores by developing a website and an app. The app logs products approaching the expiry date, allowing consumers to purchase them at a lower price.

Project Ubuntu was placed highly at the global food security hackathon -- Food for Future Summit, held earlier this year. The students also managed to raise over Dh10,000 as part of their crowdfunding campaign on DubaiNEXT.

Explaining the Project Ubuntu, Grade 12 student of GEMS Modern Academy, Anitej Chanda says, “We developed the idea for the project at our school’s incubation centre under the guidance of our teacher, Eriyat Lakshmi Devi, and went on to publish a research paper detailing relevant market analysis and prospects in the International Journal of Innovative Science and Research Technology.”

Another student involved with the project, Siddharth Singh, says, “We identified that consumers prefer optimal food products due to a lack of price difference between optimal and suboptimal products.

"By leveraging a newly introduced price differential, consumers can save on groceries while maintaining fresh food quality. Simply put, foods that are close to their expiration date is more affordable.”

They point out that suboptimal products, even if they are satisfactory quality, often result in a large amount of food wastage.

“The reduced prices on our app encourage consumers to purchase those products that would otherwise be discarded, avoiding unnecessary waste. Furthermore, the collected data has the potential to assist retailers in developing methods to reduce retail waste while fulfilling CSR objectives,” explains Ayesh Kadike.

The team underlines that the initial focus will be on vegetables and bakery items, with the possibility of expansion into dairy and meat products in the future.


Co-founder, Hari Chandrasekhar, says, “We have had promising conversations with numerous heads of grocery stores across Dubai but have yet to confirm our first official partnership as we are still developing and refining our product.

"As part of our long-term plan, we intend to expand beyond retail to include restaurants and other establishments. Once we officially launch our product (publicly) we expect to form partnerships.”

Shining a light on what drove the students to launch the initiative, Krishna Panicker says, “It is the result of realisation than inspiration. One of our co-founders, Siddharth, enjoyed a buffet at a restaurant in Fujairah and sampled several dishes. He noticed a screen outside the restaurant that displayed the amount of food wasted at the establishment. It pointed out that the 68kg wasted that day could have fed 130 people.”

Student, Sahith Reddy, says, “It was a shocking realisation as it dawned on us that we, too, contribute to those numbers in our own ways. We worked on our idea that same night when Siddharth returned home and now, a year later, Project Ubuntu has taken off. With the support of our friends, family and, most importantly, our school, we have been able to take this project further than we ever thought.”

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