Covid-19 community heroes: Youth code app to assist seniors with groceries

Students (from left) Vivek Venkatram, Logan Sethu, Atishay Dikshit, Rohan Punamiya and Gitansh Arora initiated Can Mah!, which pairs seniors with people who can help them get groceries.
Students (from left) Vivek Venkatram, Logan Sethu, Atishay Dikshit, Rohan Punamiya and Gitansh Arora initiated Can Mah!, which pairs seniors with people who can help them get groceries.PHOTO: COURTESY OF ATISHAY DIKSHIT

A photograph of an elderly man surrounded by empty shelves in a supermarket was the catalyst for five students to create the Can Mah! platform, which pairs seniors who need help getting groceries with neighbours who can lend a hand.

Atishay Dikshit, 18, who is among the group that recently graduated from the United World College of South East Asia (UWC), says he and his friends wanted to do something meaningful during the circuit breaker.

He says their goal was to help the elderly get groceries without having to compete for slots on delivery platforms or risk exposure to the coronavirus at supermarkets.

They initially wanted to create a new platform, but decided to integrate it with GoodHood.SG, a free sharing platform, to tap its existing user base. GoodHood allows people to put up items for sale or donation, list ways they can help or respond to specific requests from those living nearby.

Atishay and his friends coded the Can Mah! platform, spending up to nine hours a day on chat app Discord as they worked out the programming, design and interface. They launched it early last month.

"UWC has always taught us the importance of giving back. The Singapore community has been so good to us all these years and we just wanted to contribute to the kampung spirit we enjoyed," says Atishay, a permanent resident who moved here from New Delhi with his family 11 years ago.

Two of the co-founders are Singapore citizens and two are student pass holders.

Since the launch, the team has received a $5,000 grant from the Oscar @ SG fund, launched by Temasek Trust, the philanthropic arm of Singapore investment firm Temasek. They will use it to sponsor groceries for vulnerable individuals.

Beyond the current pandemic, Atishay hopes Can Mah! will continue to serve the needs of those vulnerable.

  • This is the first of a five-part series in collaboration with DBS to showcase people in Singapore who have come together to uplift the community in these trying times

 
 
 
 

"Even when Singapore goes back to what it was before the pandemic, the platform could still connect the youth and elderly in the community," he says.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 26, 2020, with the headline 'Youth code app to assist seniors with groceries'. Print Edition | Subscribe