How the Thought For Food Foundation gave me super-powers!

It’s 3:10 am on Sunday the 22nd of April, 2018. I’m up by this time because internet connection seems best at midnight. I’m almost sure it is because half of Nigeria is asleep and I have the Network all to myself. I’m lost in thoughts. I’m thinking of how a lot has changed in the last 120 days.

Now Let’s Go back in time to half a year before now. I was very frustrated with the situation I was in. My mates were interning at various organizations and companies but I was at home, taking care of my siblings and dogs. I couldn’t get a placement offer. I was very hateful and was desperately searching for a way out. I needed purpose! So, I read a lot more, prayed more and wrote a lot of applications for various opportunities. BUT! I was never accepted. I always checked my mails but never got the congratulatory mail I was hoping for. My frustration grew and my self esteem fell by 90%. I felt I was useless and worth nothing. I was going to give up on everything. Yes! It was that bad.

Let’s move a little closer to the present:

I had actually heard about the Thought For Food Challenge in 2015. I didn’t know much about it then. It sounded too big a competition for me but I went ahead to subscribe to their Newsletters anyways. 2016, I tried to participate but my University was out of session and distance was a huge set back for my team.

On the 15th of November, 2017, I receive a mail from Thought For Food (TFF) Challenge calling for applications to be an Ambassador. I read through, I scoffed and exited the mail. They couldn’t possibly choose a Nobody like me. I stopped to think for a minute. I thought of all my disappointments which were good reasons for me not to try. BUT! I reopened that mail, clicked the form link and poured out my heart in that Application (P.S: It was the first time I had actually spoken from my heart in any application). I submitted on the 16th of November 2017. I told my girlfriend to go through it. She said it was really nice and I told her that I hope to be picked, at least just this once. This was meant to be my final application for a really long time.

12th of December, 2017. I receive a mail from Jared of TFF. Originally, I thought it was the usually “Consolatory mails” to tell me I wasn’t chosen. A part of me was optimistic. I opened the mail and I saw my first Congratulations. I adjusted myself in my chair, cleaned my eyes and re-read the mail.

It was actually a congratulatory mail telling me that I had been chosen to be a TFF Global ambassador. I was shaking and screaming.

I had been acknowledged. I wasn’t as bad as I had thought. I hugged my girlfriend who was right next to me so tight she couldn’t breathe. Then my mother, father and siblings all took turns to hug and congratulate me. I felt so special.

Back to the Present. It has been 4 months since I received that mail and a lot has changed drastically about me. Firstly, the opportunity to serve was a morale and self-esteem booster. It sparked something great within me and I went ahead to start a Non-profit Organisation called African Hydra which aims to revolutionize Africa by efficiently Utilizing the power of African youths to solve Africa’s problems by giving them access to the right information and empowering them through Technical and Vocational Education training. Being a TFF Ambassador, I’ve become recognized by lots of students in my University. I now have access to many Professors and Doctors in my school and this is a privilege I would never have had on my own. I’ve bonded with the brightest students on campus as many of them were instantly excited to hear about the Challenge and the opportunity it brings. I’ve had access to lots of Documents from TFF which has built both my Hard and Soft skills. I’m currently working hard on a start-up that aims to empower Tomato Farmers in Nigeria by reducing the amount of Tomatoes they lose annually which according to research is usually 45–50%. The TFF Challenge’s Design Thinking Lab is a world-class design thinking lab which helps Entrepreneurs groom their Ideas till it is perfect for pitching and it is made available to those interested in participating in the challenge. This lab has enabled me grow my start-up to the stage where it is right now. You should try it! Most excitingly, I’ve been live at a Popular Radio Station in the state where my University is located.

I’ve had a lot of fun being an Ambassador for TFF and I’m sure there’s still a lot to come at the TFF Summit. Now, I’m sure you’re wondering what TFF and the Challenge is all about. I’d keep it as succinct as possible.

“Thought For Food (TFF) is a movement dedicated to tackling the global challenge of feeding 9+ billion people by 2050 through bold, breakthrough solutions. This nonprofit is focused on engaging and empowering next-generation innovators through the exchange of ideas and experiences to develop game-changing food security ideas into reality. Found in 2011, TFF has worked with more than 8,000 students from universities in over 51 countries across the continental divide. In 2016/17 about 1000 teams signed up for the TFF Challenge. Part of achieving this goal means uncommon and unique collaborations between industry, governments, universities, and other non-industry, governments, universities, and other nonprofits. TFF believes that through next-generation ideas and innovations everyone will have food on the table.”

“The Thought For Food Challenge is both a platform and a system which is very critical in addressing the world’s pressing challenges such as hunger, malnutrition, obesity and food waste, just to mention only a few. Yearly, since 2011, Thought For Food runs an annual challenge where it supports innovations and ideas from the brightest young social entrepreneurs and students in all universities and around the world that can guarantee the provision of adequate, safe and nutritious food to the 9+ billion projected world population growths by 2050.

The overall objective of the Thought For Food Challenge is to motivate students and young people especially those who are 35 years and below from all disciplines to learn about the complex challenges surrounding food security, to inspire them to action, and to equip them with the tools they need to bring their visions to life.

On January 15, 2018, the Thought For Food launched its 2018 edition of the Thought For Food Global Challenge, calling on young innovators to develop game-changing ideas to tackle the challenge of feeding 9+ billion people by 2050.”

If you are interested in knowing more and participating in the challenge, kindly log on to Explore the website, sign up for the challenge, create your team and make sure you submit your pitch before the 4th of May, 2018. If you can’t apply this year, don’t feel sad. Just do what I did. Subscribe to our newsletters and get updates directly in your mails. This way you stay updated on all we do and while you wait, keep working on that bright idea of yours for the 2019 edition of the Challenge.

Story by Daniel Odediran