By David Schuman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Burnsville man is playing a crucial role in his home country’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yves Zouzouambe, a software developer, came to the United States from Cameroon when he was 25.

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This summer, the government of the African nation called him to create a platform to connect hospitals, schools and government entities with COVID-19 supplies and resources.wc

Zouzouambe worked with an international team of developers and IT specialists to deliver “IndustrialWatch19” — a kind of eBay or Craigslist marketplace. Buyers post requests of what they need, and producers list what’s available.

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Beyond just masks and health and hygiene products, several essential items can be found, including food, bedding and mosquito nets.

Zouzouambe says the project didn’t come without stress.

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“My wife can attest to that. I basically spent a lot of nights here in the office,” Zouzouambe said. “The pressure was on because they needed this in about four weeks. Obviously everybody was scrambling, ‘We need a solution right away.'”

The team finished in six weeks. The Cameroonian government must approve every product listed in the marketplace for quality. Then when a sales match is made, the government facilitates the logistics of shipping and payment.

Slightly larger than California, Cameroon has had 415 COVID deaths, according to the World Health Organization. Its population is more than 26 million.

“Minnesota helped educate me with what I know about software and computers in general, and being able to contribute like this back home is very rewarding for an individual,” Zouzouambe said.

Right now, the site only supports transactions on an industrial scale. Zouzouambe is working on version two of the website that would allow smaller businesses and mom-and-pop stores to sell their goods.

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David Schuman