A Nordic all-female trio is tackling UAE’s food waste problem one meal at a time through BonApp. Their app, which launched in January this year, prevents restaurants from tossing the excess mounds of food by bringing them a large set of customers that are willing to buy them at bargain prices. The end result? The restaurant ends up with higher sales, the customers get the same restaurant food at rock-bottom prices, and the overall amount of food waste is reduced.
The food waste problem in the UAE is a mounting concern. “One-third of the food in restaurants in the UAE is wasted each day. An estimation of food worth 4 Billion USD is wasted every year in the UAE,” said BonApp co-founder Malin Delin.
Inspired by Dubai government’s #ZeroFoodWaste campaign and the UAE Food Bank, the trio, who are foodies at heart, drafted a plan that made business sense and addressed the food waste issue. Luckily, all three have different areas of expertise that they brought to the table; Malin with her geeky passion for numbers, Alice Kaboli with her eye for detail and design, and Erika Daintry with her go-getter attitude and sales skills.
Fast forward a few months and BonApp is launched. After some signs of hesitation by restaurants, the app instantly makes the rounds in the food circles. They name it BonApp as it is short for bon appétit and also means “good app” in French.
BonApp is based on a simple premise. Restaurants list unsold food and offer discounts on them. Then the users of the app are shown restaurants in their area that are selling food and the discount being offered. Once the user selects the food, she or he will have to pay through the app and be given a unique code that will have to be shown at the restaurant to get the bargain deal. “With BonApp everyone can contribute, feel good about themselves, and save money at the same time,” Malin said.
Despite having a brilliant plan in place, it wasn’t a walk in the park for the founders. “Setting up any start-up is always a challenge in the beginning,” said Malin. “For us, it proved difficult to get the first partners to sign up, but slowly we saw a change in mindset and now restaurants are calling us up asking to be part of BonApp.”
The response from people in Dubai has been astounding from the get-go, almost as if they were waiting for their concept to launch “We have been overwhelmed by the positive response from customers in Dubai” said Malin. “We also feel that people really want to make decisions with a positive impact, but the option is not always there.”
BonApp currently has 5,000 active users and the number is growing by day. After seeing the positive response, the trio are planning to launch in Abu Dhabi in September, followed by a nationwide launch by the end of the year.
As opposed to what many think, the offers on the app are not limited to pick-up; most restaurants even accept dine-in customers. BonApp is also rolling out a new feature that will give its partner restaurants the option to offer home delivery to users, which is scheduled to be launched this year. “Customers will have more and more food deals and outlets to choose from, as we have many new restaurants joining us in the near future,” Malin said. “You will also be seeing more grocery items offered soon.”
Words by Mohammed Mirza