Project Details

Two women walk past a street market selling fruit in Uruguay, South America


Helps people locate scarce essential supplies.

By EngTools-DEV

Project URL:
Project Twitter: @Abasteceme

Organisation Twitter: @EngToolsDEV

  • Economic Empowerment
  • Data
  • Geolocation
  • Mobile

Innovators are often spurred into action by a crisis. Jose Augusto Montiel was no different. His crisis was an alarming shortage of toilet paper.

In the summer of 2013, Venezuelans started running out of toilet paper (and other basics like soap and flour). The government blamed the shortages on hoarding driven by inflammatory media reports, planted by merchants keen to drive up prices. The merchants blamed the government’s price controls and monopolisation of supplies.

Montiel, a 21-year-old chemical engineering student in the western city of Maracaibo, wanted to do something simple to help people find what they needed. Supplies of basics, including toilet paper, would appear like magic, without warning, and then vanish before people had a chance to find them.

Montiel, working in his bedroom, with the help of his chief designer – his sister – created the Abasteceme (Supply Me) app, to be downloaded from Google Play and run on Android phones, so people could alert one another as to where supplies of basic goods had started to appear. It is a simple, low-cost, crowdsourced way for people to let each other know where supplies are plentiful: consumers, helping one another in a market where all the information is in the hands of the merchants, supermarkets and the government.

Among the many disadvantages that poorer people face is that they often have to spend more time searching for and gathering supplies, often walking long distances to buy something. Abasteceme, which has had close to 50,000 downloads since its launch, tips the balance of power slightly in their favour and in the process it has helped thousands of needy Venezuelans get their toilet paper.

Image 'Skeldon market-Guyana' courtesy of KennardP

Last updated: 09th of May, 2014

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