In an attempt to save surplus food and reduce its wastage, Menna Shaheen launched the Tekeyaapplication in 2019, which allows food providers from restaurants, hotels and supermarkets to offer surplus food for free to charities and non-governmental organizations, or sell it at a lower price of up to 50% off to the consumer.
The idea sparked in Shahin's mind when she was having her lunch in one of the sushi restaurants and she found that the restaurant was throwing its daily surplus food, when she asked them if she could buy this food they refused.
Shahin recognized the huge amount of food wasted around the world. She then made her research that came out with the fact that around two thirds of the world's food end in trash instead of reaching people.
That was the moment Shahin thought of setting up the Tekeya application, which helps in delivering the surplus food to the poor and protects the environment.
"Our main purpose is to protect the environment from the harms of the wasted food. Until this moment we were able to provide 40,000 meals from the surplus food which equals 100,000 kilos of carbon dioxide," Shahin said.
"At the beginning I faced difficulties in persuading the restaurants and hotel owners to sell their surplus food to “Tekeya", or to give it up to it in favor of charities that distribute it to the poor," Shahin added to Majalla.
But at the end, Shahin succeeded in striking a deal with a number of supermarkets, restaurants and hotels.
Tekeya was launched on a small scale in Cairo Governorate, and now it has reached 5 governorates, Cairo, Alexandria, Giza, Sharkia, and Aswan as well as Dubai and Saudi Arabia.
A third of the food prepared is wasted. In Egypt, an individual wastes around 73 kilos of food annually, and in the Middle East 250 kilos annually, according to statistics.
Tekeya works to provide an easy way to donate, and also to increase the work of restaurants and provide services to the community.
"The Tekeya team believes that the more social impact we achieve the bigger we grow, and so we are always working to reach more people and to save the environment more," Shahin explained.
During the Covid-19 crisis, many restaurants were shut off, Tekeya dealt with these restaurants to prepare meals that they bought and deliver to charities and to those affected by the coronavirus crisis from daily workers, and the medical sector workers.
"We were delivering around 500 to 1000 meals everyday," Shahin added to Majalla.
Tekeya has a quality control section which is responsible to check that all the meals are clean and not expired, they also contract with the restaurants to write the expiry date on each meal.
"The food we present to people are not wasted food, it is surplus food and it is clean and with very good quality," Shahin confirmed.
Throughout the first week of Ramadan, many restaurants that dealt with Tekeya have donated more than a thousand meals.
“We agreed with a large number of restaurants to prepare an iftar meal, which we called the Good Meal, as well as “Shantet Al-Khair” (bag full of food and drinks products) from the supermarket, we display these meals on the application at a low price, allowing consumers to buy quantities of them, and Tekeya will work to distribute them to the needy,” Shahin explained to Majalla.
One of the difficulties that Tekeya faced at the beginning of its work was finding a working team that believed in the idea, in addition to raising the people's awareness of the harms of wasting food, and how it affected the environment, according to Shahin.
But now things are better.
"My husband and I are the co-founders, and we have our team of 12 people," Shahin said.
"There are also influencers and public figures who believed in our idea and how it is important and joined us in our awareness campaigns that are directed at both people and food providers," Shahin added.
Tekeya aims to expand the idea, spread it nationwide, as well as in the Middle and Far East and to co-operate with a larger number of restaurants and hotels.
"The number of the application’s registered users reached 45,000 - we aim to provide more than 50 million meals through the next five years," Shahin concluded.