What can you do with 50 cents? In the Western world, very little. In other, poorer parts of the planet, what for us is just pocket money, becomes a life-saving sum.
With $0.50, you can feed one child with nothing to eat for one full day in many countries, according to data gathered by the United Nation’s World Food Programme (WFP).
The only problem is finding a way to convince people to donate these few cents in a way that sounds as easy and ‘frictionless’ as possible.
The WFP believes your mobile phone could be part of the solution, and is launching today the ShareTheMeal app for iOS and Android, which allows users to help starving children with just two taps of their finger.
You can choose how much to donate for every single contribution, and the staff is working to implement a button that will allow recurring, monthly donations as well.
An interesting feature of the app, is that it users to compare their charity efforts to that of their Facebook friends (if they’ve logged through the network): an aspect of gamification, which could stimulate people to multiply their efforts.
The project is the brainchild of Sebastian Stricker and Bernhard Kowatsch, two managers of the World Food Programme who started working on it during a gap year they took in 2014, and soon gathered around them several employees and volunteers – mostly based in Berlin.
What began as an independent startup, soon received the support of the WFP Innovation Accelerator, in line with the United Nations’ ambitious goal to end world hunger by 2030.
When the app was first tested in June, the results were flattering: the pilot, run in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, involved 120,000 people, and raised almost 1,7M meals for children in need in the southern African country of Lesotho.
The money coming from today’s global launch, will be used initially to support 20,000 Syrian refugee children living in the Zaatari camp in Jordan who participate in WFP’s school meals program. For them, this is the fifth year away from home, and many live in dire conditions.
“By Christmas. we hope to have gathered enough shared meals, to feed these children for one year,” ShareTheMeal’s head of growth Massimiliano Costa says.
So far, the app has over 100,000 active users who have donated 1 million meals. If all goes well, from 2016 the project will expand to other countries and regions.
Could the end to global hunger, indeed, be just a tap away?
This article was written by Federico Guerrini from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.