Coometas is a digital solution for social entities to manage aid for vulnerable individuals through a mobile app. It allows purchases at local businesses, combating stigmatisation and the digital divide, while supporting neighbourhood commerce. It provides digital traceability and facilitates management through the monitoring panel. Focused on constant support to families, it is an innovative intervention tool for entities to provide better assistance and improve the situation of beneficiary families.
Hunger and poverty are social issues that affect millions of people worldwide. In Spain, the number of people at risk of poverty and/or exclusion has been increasing in recent years due to the economic crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic, and population ageing. According to the AROPE report “The State of Poverty,” in the year 2022, 26% of the Spanish population was at risk of poverty or exclusion (12.3 million people).
During COVID, the so-called “Hunger Lines” became evident, where individuals facing economic difficulties had to access food banks to acquire basic food products, with no choice and subject to stigmatisation. At the same time, local commerce in cities (a source of economy and social value) is affected by the competition from large supermarkets, which increasingly pressurise it, making its survival impossible.
Regarding the Third Social Action Sector (organisations from the social sector that work on social or humanitarian actions), it is currently undergoing a transformation, seeking to optimise processes through digitization and placing the focus on the individual. For example, the transformation from Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD) to European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) and its management bases highlight the need for tools that empower individuals, provide better support to beneficiary families, and can collect data on the progress of aid campaigns. Data and digital tools will be the means to better manage and measure impact, better manage social projects, and make better decisions in aid itineraries.
All of this is happening while the Third Social Action Sector has experienced sustained growth over the past 10 years, driven by factors such as increased social awareness of the Third Sector, greater funding availability for it, and increased demand for social services by society.
Technical details & Operations
Coometas digitalizes both public and private funds managed by the Third Social Sector for the coverage of basic goods (food, hygiene, etc.) in vulnerable families. These financial funds are connected to small food businesses through a digital system that provides greater agility, scalability, and efficiency in aid management.
The tool is based on:
1) a mobile app
2) a digital voucher system
3) a monitoring panel available to Social Entitie
The process is simple: users download the app (available on iOS/Android), receive a digital coupon from the social entity, and redeem it in the app to obtain credit, which they use to make purchases at associated businesses. The coupons are fully adaptable to the amounts that families need to receive. This modality, similar to a mobile app wallet card, allows for autonomous food purchases, including specific options such as halal or Latin American products, but with greater agility in use and the possibility of scaling.
Social entities, through their panel, manage coupons, monitor transactions in real-time, analyse purchases, and communicate with users through the app. This optimises expense justification to funders and provides knowledge about the eating habits of vulnerable families. The app eliminates the need to collect physical receipts, as everything is digitally recorded, saving time for the technicians responsible for campaign monitoring.
Additionally, it allows social entities to offer additional assistance to families, such as nutrition advice, recipes, well-being surveys, and organise events or workshops, all through the app. This tool is also open to the public, promoting the reduction of surplus food in local businesses and avoiding stigmatisation, as it is used by both vulnerable groups and the general public. These surplus foods can be purchased at a greatly reduced price, preventing them from ending up in the trash.
In summary, Coometas improves assistance to needy families, promotes autonomy, reduces stigmatisation, supports local commerce, and facilitates the management of social entities in the Third Sector. The app is available in Arabic, Spanish, English, French, and Basque.
Deployment & Impact
Coometas was born at the end of 2018 as a solution to combat food waste in local food businesses. Shortly thereafter, a solution to assist vulnerable families began to be developed. Seeing the success of the solution and the positive reception from Social Entities, the company decided to focus on developing a solution for the Third Sector, leading to the current methodology.
As of today, COOMETAS has close to 500 collaborating businesses in various parts of Spain. Over 3,000 families have been assisted through collaborations with institutions such as the Spanish Red Cross. It’s worth noting the approval received from the National Commission for Contracting and Investments of the Spanish Red Cross in 2023. Attached is a link to a news article in Diario Vasco mentioning the collaboration: link.
Thanks to these projects, collaborating businesses have seen their sales increase by more than 500 euros per month, which is significant for local commerce.
Coometas is a highly scalable project that does not require any logistics. For its operation, it is only necessary to have a network of collaborating businesses, so that the solution can be up and running anywhere in the world, serving thousands of families in a matter of weeks. The technology is being developed to provide greater management options to social entities and to offer more support to families with features such as the analysis of consumption habits and advice on them, in addition to combating food insecurity, fighting malnutrition.
Coometas continuously measures its social impact by assessing the number of families they assist, the number of businesses that see increased sales, and the overall satisfaction of users. Additionally, Coometas maintains continuous communication with the entities with which it has collaboration agreements to continue developing the digital tool in order to meet more needs of the entities.