African project wins SRUC’s Enterprise Challenge competition

Masters student Shalom Oshi has won the top prize in SRUC’s Enterprise Challenge

An Edinburgh student looking to improve food systems in Africa has been named overall winner of the annual Enterprise Challenge competition run by SRUC.

The contest, which is organised by SRUC’s Enterprise Academy, asks students to come up with innovative sustainable solutions to challenges facing the natural economy in Scotland and beyond.

Shalom Oshi, a Masters student in Food Security, won the top prize of £1,500 with her idea for a novel agritech solution to foster more sustainable food systems in Africa.

Shalom, who grew up in a rural farming community in northern Cross-River, Nigeria, became interested in the ways farmers could improve their productivity while studying for an undergraduate degree in Agricultural Economics & Extension at the University of Port-Harcourt.

In her third year at university, she started a chicken farm which she managed for around five years. After being awarded a Mastercard Foundation Scholarship, Shalom arrived at SRUC in 2023 to continue her studies and learn more about food production innovation in other countries.

She said: “With more than 2.5 billion hungry mouths to feed by 2050, food production systems in Africa must be improved for maximum efficiency but this should not come at the expense of the planet. I was honoured to put forward my sustainable food production innovation for this cause and winning this competition is all the empowerment I need to get started.

“Being a farmer myself, I understand the challenges that stifle our levels of food production and the opportunity to gain exposure and learn from a renowned institution like SRUC enables me to assemble innovative processes and to design sustainable solutions.”

The competition attracted entries from students at SRUC campuses across Scotland, and featured entrepreneurial ideas relating to climate mitigation, food waste and community development.

A team of five Aberdeen-based BSc Agriculture students - Betsy Findlay, Blair Begg, Duncan MacBride, Mitchell McGillivray and Molly Fletcher – came second and shared a prize pot of £1,000 for their business proposal to develop an innovative outdoor leisure product using natural materials, while Edinburgh-based MSc Food Security student Adekunle Ademikanra won third prize and £500 for a pioneering idea aimed at reducing food waste in Nigeria.

Two highly commended prizes of £250 were awarded to MSc Ecological Economics student Gervase Cottam and MSc Food Security student Esther Mungai, also both based at the Edinburgh campus.

The prizes were provided by Forth Resource Management Ltd, an organic material recycling specialist and horticultural product retailer, GrowBiz, a Scotland-wide rural enterprise support organisation, and Scottish law firm Morton Fraser MacRoberts. The competition was also supported by Converge, a company creation programme for the Scottish University sector, and University Innovation Funding from the Scottish Funding Council.

The trio of judges were SRUC Entrepreneur in Residence and CEO of GrowBiz Jackie Brierton MBE, SRUC alumni Tommy Dale, Managing Director of Forth Resource Management Ltd, and Richard Cormack Corrigan, an Enterprise Executive at Converge.

Jackie said: “We heard a real diversity of ideas from an inspiring group of potential entrepreneurs which gives you faith in our next generation of enterprising people.

“The role SRUC’s Enterprise Academy is playing to ensure enterprise is a cross-cutting theme is important and already reaping rewards. Entrepreneurial education, whether it leads to the creation of new businesses or not, is essential.

“Developing skills like flexible thinking, change management and team working are all things you need to be successful.”

Tommy said: “There was a wonderful range of business ideas, many of which were focused on social good.”

Richard added: “It was a brilliant day, really well organised and with such an interesting and diverse group of candidates looking to change the world - some in small ways and some in big ways.”

Dr Carol Langston, Director of SRUC’s Enterprise Academy, said: “At the Enterprise Academy we strive to create a culture where sustainable thinking and entrepreneurial action are the norm for every student and staff member. Our four-year strategic curriculum project known as SEEDABLE is big part of this as it embeds vital enterprise competencies across all our teaching programmes.

“The Enterprise Challenge is an annual culmination of these efforts, and we look forward to supporting our students on the next phase of their entrepreneurial journeys.”

For further information visit our Enterprise Academy for the Rural & Natural Economy page.

Posted by SRUC on 29/01/2024

Tags: Agriculture, Awards, Craibstone, Kings Buidings, Enterprise
Categories: SRUC and Campuses | Student and Alumni | Natural Economy | Sustainability