The Youth Citizen Entrepreneurship Competition is an activity within the framework of the UNESCO Global Action Programme (GAP) on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)

Compare- Mobile application

Published on April 28, 2014 um 05:48

Summary of your idea

With one of the highest cellphone owning rates per capita in Latin America, almost 4.5 million of people, and a projection of 50% of its population owning a smartphone by 2020, Costa Rica, is the perfect niche for developing mobile applications to ease social struggles. In a developing country where prices increase each year due to high rates of inflation, and other factors directly affecting food prices such as tourism, it is important that Costa Ricans find ways to save money and to buy smart. Costa Rica is known for its sustainable development of natural resources, and as a Costa Rican, I believe that sustainability translates into every aspect of our daily life, whether its buying groceries or other goods. As a result, Compare is a mobile application with the aim of educating people to effectively manage their purchasing habits of goods, offering a full alertness of price changes, and product location (groceries, electronics, and other potential markets). Moreover, the app uses geo-location to help users identify the closest and most convenient shopping center to efficiently meet their needs. Comparing prices, finding products, and making reasonable decisions with clear and simple access to information is for a means for people to save money and precious time. Although the app offers various benefits for the Costa Rican population, our main goal is to educate people to improve management skills, thereby ensuring a fully aware, sustainable, and healthy shopping environment. We aim to help shift the fast-growing consumerist culture, due to globalization, into a culture of consuming sustainably to allocate resources to fulfill other basic needs. Finally, we hope to reach our goals by integrating the different parts of the model by working parallel to each other to ensure the benefits are widespread throughout the stakeholders.

Expected impact of your idea on sustainable development

Despite the consistent quality of branded goods, the socio-economic dynamics of the Costa Rican market leaves room to important price variations of goods from the different industries. This is possible due to a lack of communication between stores, customers, and the government. For instance, it leads buyers to either purchase products that are more expensive, and/or lead to compulsive buying habits. Therefore, the goal of Compare is to educate people to seek full awareness of their shopping choices, by having easy and direct access to information with regards to prices and products for the Costa Rican population. Although in Article 70, Law #7472, it is decreed that the government will facilitate and regulate the price variation on basic goods, the government regulatory limitations allow prices to change within the established range. Furthermore, the other products outside the spectrum are not fully regulated, and due to the lack of resources from the government, the price of the basket of basic goods do change with regards to the established suggested price by the government and the selling brands. Moreover, supermarkets utilize misleading marketing strategies to take advantage of the less educated part of the population. We expect to be an accompaniment to the educational and regulatory government efforts, which can translate into the following: decrease of gasoline usage, cut down the product-price-searching time, increase the awareness on the benefits of sustainable shopping, and finally reduce the general populations discomfort of price variation. Additionally, we hope that by encouraging sustainable shopping practices, we can contribute to the compromise of the current government towards Carbon Neutrality by 2020. Finally, by exposing this information to the general public, we strive to help the government reduce, or completely cut down its millions spent on regulating prices each year.

Plans for implementation and sustainability

The business model offered by similar apps in Latin America and the USA has restricted the full potential of an idea as such to develop. Depending on customers to provide updates on daily prices has proven to be ineffective, driving people away from the benefits of having an app with fully updated data. Indeed, we believe that integration is the key to successful implementation of Compare. There is two major components we intend to focus on in order to successfully implement Compare: business and customers. First, well persuade businesses to feed information into the platform by demonstrating the benefits of participation; instead of having customers update information by themselves. We will also explain the benefits of having daily updates of their products for customers, such as cheaper, effective, and direct widespread use of information, instead of using conventional marketing tools. The benefit of having a direct flow of information back and forth from business to buyers, may lead to a better understanding of consumers behaviors, thereby leading to more sustainable business practices to efficiently address peoples needs. Hence, cutting unnecessary excessive amounts of money spent on marketing and research, which may lead to general lower prices. Once we have businesses on board, we hope to influence customers into utilizing our free learning tool, to take full advantage of the short and long-term benefits already explained. For the moment due to the relative ease of managing and maintaining a mobile app (my business partner is a developer), we will focus on public relations with stores and the marketing of the mobile application. Also, we understand that our app is meant to work for the peculiarities of the Costa Rican market, but theres also a potential to approach similar markets in the rest of Latin America.

Your profile

Im Esteban Arguedas from Costa Rica, and Im currently finishing my junior year at Earlham College (USA) as a double major in Business & Non Profit Organization and French. In 2009 I received a full academic scholarship to study at the United World College in New Mexico, which changed my life. While taking the rigorous IB Diploma in Economics, Anthropology, English, Spanish, Environmental Studies and Math, I also lived with people from over 70 different nationalities, giving me the opportunity to engage with and learn about different cultures and experiences. This experience impacted my vision in life and every project Ive worked on ever since. As a result, I ventured in entrepreneurial projects with the mission of making a positive impact in Costa Rica and hopefully the global community. The first one titled Costa Rica Butterflies, focuses on helping local butterfly growers export their products around the world by eliminating the always-oppressing middleman. Also, the most recent venture, Costa Rica-Me, is an organization that focuses on environmental education and reforestation in Costa Rica through the help of organizations and individuals who seek carbon neutrality. These projects were developed on and off site, as I was working from abroad while my colleagues were in Costa Rica. Right now Ive gathered the necessary skills to create a venture of my own. After having found an associate from Costa Rica whose set of skills match perfectly for the implementation of this idea, Compare is finally on the development stage. I hope for this to be a fruitful learning experience that can bring more people together towards using technology to alleviate social struggles in the world. Indeed, this competition is the perfect venue to find support for this project and for me to give back for the many things life has given me.

Stage of Idea

planning stage

Your idea has a positive impact on

education, sustainable trade

App screenshot (Work in progress)

App screenshot (Work in progress)

8th Youth forum by UNESCO- Lunch with Nick D'aloisio

Post a comment


May 18, 2014 19:09

As far as online eshops are concerned you do not have to cooperate with them to retrieve info from their databases. You could just create scripts that parse the data from html. After proving that most of the traffic is through your site you can create an api and give them the opportunity to officially cooperate with you. So parsing first and then in a second phase you create an api. This is the way to go imho.
All in all go for it :)

May 12, 2014 17:30

This is a great idea, especially for a large city.

I have 2 questions.

First, could the app maybe also have a function that would allow people to know what it might cost them in gas to drive to a certain place (or what it might cost on public transportation if available)? They would need to know how much gas costs per liter and about how many kilometers their car can go on a liter. I only bring this up because sometimes, I walk to a nearby store whose costs are higher because I'm aware of what it would cost to drive across town to get lower prices.

Also, how are business owners responding to the idea? Is there any concern about the time investment to keep information updated? Seems like the free publicity even for the higher-priced places could help make it worth that time!