One Young World Ambassador from Nigeria, Oscar Ekponimo on his experience at the ITU Telecoms World Conference and his initiative, SalvageHub.
It's barely been two months since the memorable and inspiring One Young World Summit in Johannesburg rounded-off. The resounding words of motivation provided by the Counsellors and Guest Speakers continue to inspire me to pursue visions of positively impacting the lives of my community and the world.
Shortly after the Summit, I received the exciting news that my initiative to tackle individual and retail food waste called "SalvageHub" was selected as a winner of the ITU Young Innovators Competition after months of judging by international experts. My initiative was one out of 600 entries from 88 countries around the world. I was greatly humbled by this achievement, especially considering I was running against others from more developed countries with access to advanced tools and resources.
Open to young social entrepreneurs, the ITU Young Innovators competition seeks ten innovative digital solutions in the form of start-ups or concepts that face global developmental challenges. Winners are provided with funding of up to $10,000 to expand their projects and an invitation to the ITU Telecoms World Conference.
So after receiving the good news I packed my bags and headed for Bangkok, Thailand, the host of this year's ITU Telecoms World Conference for a week long business acceleration course, where I would meet with nine other winners of the ITU's Young innovators competition. Four of which were from African countries; Uganda, Kenya, Swaziland and Egypt.
The other winners of the ITU Young Innovators Competition were:
Brenda Katwesigye from Uganda with M-Tambula, a platform which provides the elderly people in Africa with easy access to public services using Interactive Voice Response over mobile phones.
Thomas Kioko from Kenya recognised for his Nduru App, a one-stop mobile application to manage all aspects of road safety.
Ahmed Fawzi from Egypt selected for his Al Dalilah Advanced Operational Global Positioning System (GPS), an advanced tracking and first response system which works using meteorological data.
Timothy McDermott from Australia and Swaziland, who created SiSwApp, an English-SiSwati translation app aimed at helping migrant workers.
Keston Perry from Trinidad and Tobago, who started KUMBA-Connect, an interface connecting unemployed Caribbean migrants with technical skills based in the United Kingdom with Caribbean-based companies.
Nguyen Tran Hoang from Vietnam honoured for Land-Sea Digital Bridge, a digital radio communication system connecting fishing boats and shore stations.
Hannah Judge from the United States for her use of geo-location technology in creating Broad Street Maps, which produces individualised healthcare maps to support health organisations.
Varun Arora from Oman, who created Open Curriculum, an open knowledge creating and sharing platform for local educational material for standard, primary and secondary schooling.
Bella Donna Econar from the Philippines selected for her Tudlo Disaster and Emergency Application, a multi-purpose information platform for emergency and disaster situations.
SalvageHub is a web and mobile platform that reduces food waste at individual and retail levels. Its target users are retailers, individuals at home and non-profits.
How it Works
The sends us alerts on packaged food products that are nearing expiry from retailers who have sign-up. Once we receive the alert, we pickup of those products and deliver them to non-profits who distribute the products to those in need.
In a similar way, individuals who download the app can notify us about any excess packaged food products in their homes that they wish to donate, they then receive an automatic-response with details of the nearest drop-off point based in relation to their location.
Moving forward, SalvageHub now has a unique value exchange cycle between retailers and consumers from which revenue to sustain the social enterprise will be achieved.
It was a great experience receiving mentorship on scaling social enterprises, branding, public relations and more from top international business experts including Marieme Jamme, Laina Greene, CEO of Barcoo Benjamin Thym, Weston Hankins, Christoph Raethke the founder of Berlin Start-up academy, and Daniela Schiffer the co-founder of Changers.com.
I also had great opportunity to network with the conference's highly influential guests as well as pitch my solution to potential investors at the conference.
The climax of my experience was a chance meeting with the First Lady of my country Nigeria, Dr, Mrs, Dame Patience Jonathan, who chaired a session with the Young Innovators, I also had the privilege of having her visit my innovation space at the exhibition pavilion where I explained my initiative to her and members of her entourage.