Nilus is a social enterprise that creates technology-based virtual markets to “uberize” food rescue with the goal of providing affordable and healthy food to low income people. To do so, it taps into the massive amounts of food that are wasted while still in perfectly edible condition. Nilus developed a digital platform that connects (through a marketplace) food producers/retailers with soup kitchens and other institutions that provide food services at very low and affordable rates to low income people. Every time it facilitates a match between food donors and beneficiaries, it crowdsources the logistics through a network of licensed drivers. By getting food directly from producers and general wholesale markets, and optimizing its fleet of drivers’ delivery routes, Nilus is able to guarantee low income communities a price well below market rates. In the cases where food is donated by the producer, Nilus only charges a fee for the delivery service. Nilus runs its operation through a hybrid model; all food donations are run through Nilus AC (Non-profit), and all commercial operations are run through Nilus LLC.
Theory of Change
Crowdsourcing food donations, virtual matchmaking and GPS-enabled delivery systems can facilitate food availability, access and adequacy for low income communities at a very low cost, contributing to reducing food insecurity and improving nutrition among these low income populations. By rescuing food, Nilus also helps decrease the carbon, water and land-use footprint of food production.
Nilus' operations are technology-based. It has developed 3 digital solutions for different customer segments: (a) A Soup Kitchens Mobile App can be used to make online orders and to process payments: (b) A Driver Mobile App is used by registered drivers to manage trip requests and receive pick-up and delivery information; (c) A Stock Management System provides a platform to: i) create and manage stock online; ii) create trips; iii) register and manage users of the two mobile solutions; and iv) generate metrics and reports. In the next two years, Nilus will:
- Finish developing its machine learning tool to optimize routes and cluster beneficiaries, for faster and more efficient delivery;
- Consolidate its operations in Argentina and Puerto Rico, US;
- Start operations in Mexico and Guatemala;
- Develop an AI-based nutritional tool to maximize the nutritional value of the food it distributes.
Since its creation in late 2017, Nilus has created four incipient, healthy and affordable virtual food markets in San Juan de Puerto Rico City, Buenos Aires City, the west Buenos Aires Metropolitan area and the South Buenos Aires Metropolitan area. Within those markets, Nilus has delivered 3 million dishes of food through more than 4,000 deliveries to 250 organizations serving around 4,000 low income beneficiaries. At least 70% of those beneficiaries are children. The cost of the food delivered was, on average, 40% lower than market rates. 80% of the food delivered are fruits and vegetables, 20% is protein. When opportunities arise, Nilus also advocates for public policies geared to enabling healthy food availability and accessibility.