Leadership in Action: Komal Ahmad, A Digital Age Hero for the Hungry

Komal Ahmad has discovered the secret to end hunger with a few taps on a smartphone. Ahmad is the CEO of Copia, an organization with an integrated phone application based platform, which allows food donors and community organizations to communicate in real time to share surplus food with those who need it most.  They have recovered 830,000 pounds of food and fed 691,000 people to date, while promoting $4.6 million in business savings.  Copia aims to serve a million more in the coming year with global expansion plans for 2017.

A Pakistani born and raised in Vegas, Ahmad graduated cum laude with distinction from the University of California, Berkeley.  She holds several notable recognitions including the Humanitarian of the Year Award, Heal the World Innovation Prize, and Entrepreneur of the Year from Open Forum Silicon Valley.  Most recently, Ahmad received a $50,000 grant from Toyota and Women in the World’s “Mother of Invention” program, which recognizes strong woman who work towards solutions for the world’s most crucial problems. This spring, Ahmad delivered a keynote speech at the United Nations Headquarters addressing the “world’s dumbest problem: hunger.”  She proclaimed “50 million Americans don’t know where their next food is coming from, while 350 million pounds of food is wasted every single day…that stark reality makes it the world’s dumbest problem.”

She shared an incident from 2011 that influenced her to launch Copia. As a student at U.C. Berkeley, Ahmad encountered a homeless man begging for money for food. Instead of giving him money, she asked the man to join her for lunch. During their conversation, she discovered that the man’s name was John, and he was a two time Iraq War veteran. He was on the streets, homeless, and hungry as he waited for his benefits to start.  She stated it only “added insult to injury” when during their lunch when she noticed her university’s cafeteria discarding thousands of pounds of food. It was then she made the shocking realization that while so many people go hungry, thousands of pounds of edible food are wasted every day.

After that incident, Ahmad and few of her fellow students at Berkeley founded “Feeding Forward”, a non-profit organization to collect excess food from restaurants, corporate parties, weddings, grocers, and businesses, and deliver it to homeless shelters, soup kitchens, churches, and other nonprofit organizations. Ahmad found that one of the biggest issues in running the organization was efficiently coordinating between donors and benefactors.  Through sustained effort and hard work Ahmad ultimately launched Copia, an easy to navigate platform that allows food donors to request a pickup of their surplus to have it dropped off at a nearby shelter, which helps people in need while curbing food waste.

To learn more visit: gocopia.com