UNB Scholarship recipients
The NBIF is proud to support innovation across New Brunswick, whether that innovation is occurring in a lab, out in the field or in a classroom. We know that students are the next generation of thinkers, strivers, and creators in this province, which is why we actively support student attraction and retention through our Graduate Scholarships program.
This week we’re going to feature an interview with Damilare Odumosu, a recipient of one of our STEM scholarships, which are offered to PhD and Masters’ students conducting innovative studies at our NB universities.
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and conciseness.
You’re in university at UNB – Can you tell me about your program?
I’m enrolled in the new Masters of Technology Management and Entrepreneurship program! It’s basically an experiential learning opportunity for entrepreneurs. The program helps you build your company, while also showing you how to improve as a person with things like leadership skills. It has opened my eyes to how many ways there are for technology to solve problems.
You were awarded a scholarship from the NBIF – can you talk to me about that award?
The scholarship was what got the ball rolling. As an international student, there are so many expenses associated with leaving your own country to go to school here, but the scholarship was a huge motivation. I was back in Nigeria, and receiving the commitment of the $7000 allowed me to see and believe in my idea. Seeing the faith that they put in me was super helpful.
What made you want to start All Farmers Online? What was the event that made you realize that you could use your education to solve this problem?
All Farmers Online existed before I came to UNB.
We already had an idea – but we’re now using it to solve a new problem. When I applied for the scholarship it was about using the technology for tourism in New Brunswick. But now we’re using it for more dire situations in Nigeria. So the idea or application of the technology shifted, or pivoted, to solve a new problem.
I’ve been working in the tech entrepreneurship industry for about 6 years. When I was home, I worked for companies that used animation to teach mathematics to students, but I always wanted to create a deeper impact. The decision to research international programs, to leave my home country, to take a leave from the boards of directors in two companies in Nigeria, was because I wanted to position myself to be able to make a better impact.
But deciding to work in agriculture – the case study is my home country. 60% of the agricultural harvest goes to waste in Nigeria. I couldn’t just look away anymore. I realized that we need to adapt technology to make life better for farmers and for the people who need to access food.
How does All Farmers Online work?
We’re basically using geo-tagging technology and online shopping to reduce waste. We help filter the food further down the supply chain, which helps ensure food security and reduce poverty.
This will hopefully create a ripple effect and help facilitate more buyers for the food and improve financial inclusion.
In our model, we made sure to include second bookers – basically people who assist the farmers in accessing the technology. So a technology-literate high school student goes to the farm and helps the farmer put his or her product online on the store. This creates employment for young people too.
Down the line, we’ll be able to tackle larger problems head on. But this is a really important step.
How do you see the company progressing in the next 1-2 years?
I see us moving across Nigeria and into other parts of sub-Saharan Africa.
What did it mean for your company and you personally to receive the NBIF scholarship?
It was a big relief. It was a big motivator. The dedication, passion, commitment, and hard work that I’ve put into my time in New Brunswick is due to the fact that I received that scholarship.
It’s a large chunk of money to give to someone to live their dreams, and it shows that the NBIF believes in talent across the world. So it propelled me. I wouldn’t be here without the support of the NBIF.
I’ve also received the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship $10k and the RBC Social Innovation Award, been a finalist for the World Bank Group Ideas for Action competition, and won the Grandmothers Top 5 Award at Start Up Fest. None of that would have been possible without the award of the NBIF scholarship.
From Nigeria to New Brunswick — that’s quite the trip to make to follow your dream!
So when I arrived here, it was challenging. It’s colder – it’s away from my family.
What kept me going is the desire to do better. To make a bigger impact. To make a positive change.
But New Brunswick is home now! I’ve had smores, I’ve had campfires, and the people are so nice. Since I arrived, it’s been amazing because of how beautiful the people are here.
New Brunswick is beautiful. It’s home!