To change the way we produce, trade and deliver food is possible (and above all necessary). Bold ideas, a motivated heart and a decided team are needed to achieve this. Youth! A sum of factors that appear more frequently in a certain period of life.
Our energy, creativity, determination and resilience make us the age group with the greatest potential to transform the agrifood industry. It also makes us the one that has more responsibility in achieving it, because not only our food security is at risk, but also that of our children and grandchildren.
Uncle Ben already said it: “With great power, comes great responsibility”.
Today, there are organizations that encourage young people to start up a business in Food & Agro and allow their ideas to have greater visibility with a global reach. Thought For Food (TFF) is one of those organizations and for the last 5 years, they have championed for young people around the world to have a positive impact on our food system. Every year, TFF organizes the Thought For Food Challenge, a competition for passionate and innovative young students about developing solutions to the biggest challenges our generation is facing:
How to feed 9 billion people by the year 2050?
The TFF Challenge makes available to all participants a digital platform to learn in a practical way dubbed Design Thinking. In addition, it gives you the opportunity to connect with top-level mentors, gives you global visibility and the possibility of winning an all-paid trip to the TFF Summit to expose your idea to a jury and compete for $15,000 in funding.
However, what makes the TFF Challenge really special is the global community of entrepreneurs in Food&Agro from which you can become part of. A network of almost 8 thousand young people representing more than 100 countries, sharing opportunities, experiences and learnings. Why this? Because Starting up a business is not easy at all, but being accompanied by a large like minded community makes the road lighter, smoother and above all, funnier.
“Youth is not a time of life, it is a state of the spirit” - Mateo Alemán
A few years ago I participated in the TFF Challenge, and even though my team did not make it to the finals, the active participation that I had in the community, opened the doors for me this year in the TFF Ambassador role for Peru. My role has been promoting the competition at a country level, for which I organized events, workshops and some presentations, at the end I helped 7 Peruvian teams be part of the competition.
Although no Peruvian team made it to the finals this year, I must mention that there are more and more young agripreneurs in Peru, we must continue strengthening the entrepreneurial ecosystem and maximize the competitive advantages we have, such as gastronomy, biodiversity, among others.
So the only Peruvian at this year's TFF Summit in Amsterdam was me. I tried meat ice cream and ate fried worms, experienced virtual reality in agriculture, and meditated with chocolate via streaming. It is often said that when there are so many young people gathered, motivated and with disruptive ideas, the regular event becomes THE EVENT.
However, of the three days of innovation in Amsterdam, the most exciting thing has been listening to the pitch of the 10 TFF Challenge finalists. Revolutionary ideas addressing issues such as food waste, distribution short-chains, Big Data in agriculture, etc.The competition was very tight, but like in every contest, at the end, there is always a winner. And this time, Cultivating Future, a Colombian StartUp that promotes fair trade, through the direct connection between producers and buyers, took the first place.
And this is how I conclude another cycle in the TFF Challenge, with a bigger, connected and committed community ready to continue promoting the search for innovative solutions to the problems of food security.
And as I said at the beginning, bold ideas, a motivated heart and a decided team are needed to reinvent our food system. Never before young people had so many tools around and a world full of opportunities to launch a business. There is no better time to start-up than now. Let’s remember that the time passes very fast and that we will never be again as young as we are today - so, why wait?
We will never be again as young as we are today to StartUp!