Serving a Greater Purpose: An Entrepreneur’s Journey from Journalism to Food Justice

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Embarking on a surprising journey from journalism aspirations to becoming a key player in the food industry, Nicodemus Omundo navigated a winding path to his present role as a social entrepreneur focused on reducing food loss and waste. His journey underlines the transformative power of unexpected turns, leading to meaningful impacts in the African food industry and beyond.

Nicodemus Omundo

In life, our paths often take unexpected turns, leading us down avenues we never anticipated. For me, this couldn’t be truer. With dreams of becoming a renowned journalist, I never imagined that my journey would veer into the realm of food. However, fate had its own plans, and today, I find myself grateful for the winding path that brought me here. Over the course of a decade, I have worn various hats – farmer, chef, and now, a social entrepreneur striving to minimize food loss and waste in the fresh produce value-chain. This is the story of my accidental entry into the food industry and the profound impact it has had on my life and the lives of others.

Leaving school with dreams of making waves in the world of journalism, I was met with the harsh reality of a fiercely competitive industry. Months turned into a year, and despite my unwavering determination, employment opportunities eluded me. Frustrated but undeterred, I began exploring my secondary passion – food. Little did I know that this decision would set in motion a transformative journey that would shape my purpose and aspirations in life.

Initially, my foray into the food industry was far from a deliberate choice. It was more accidental than planned, a fortuitous turn of events. However, as I delved deeper into this uncharted territory, a profound love for the work I was doing blossomed within me. The impact I had witnessed in my previous roles and the potential to effect change on a larger scale became undeniable motivations that fuelled my newfound passion.

Food, it turns out, holds the key to both happiness and pain, particularly in the context of Africa. The continent grapples with pervasive food injustice along various supply and value chains. As I pondered the meaning of success and the impact I aimed to achieve, the answer became clear – food. With 37 out of 54 African countries facing a “serious” hunger situation, the need to address food loss became ever more pressing. Astonishingly, the continent wastes a staggering $4 billion worth of grains alone annually. This paradox demanded an urgent solution: How do we nourish a growing population with the readily available resources without further straining our planet?

True success, for me, lies in creating a business model that ensures most, if not all of the food produced remains within the human supply chain through innovative and creative food offerings. This surplus food can then serve vulnerable communities, such as refugees who are in dire need of sustenance. The food industry, especially in Africa, is in dire need of creative thinkers who can sustainably feed a burgeoning population while minimizing strain on limited resources and the environment. I extend an invitation to brilliant minds to join us on this mission, to contribute their expertise and ideas for the betterment of the continent and the world. It is essential to remember that setbacks are merely stepping stones on the path to success. Persistence and resilience are paramount.

Life often surprises us with unforeseen opportunities and challenges that shape our destiny. My journey from aspiring journalist to accidental food industry participant has been nothing short of a rollercoaster. In 2022, I was part of a training cohort for Purpose Playbook Training delivered by the SVAI. The lessons learnt from platforms such as this one have reinforced the importance of pursuing one’s passion and purpose.

The SVAI taught me how to embed purpose in my work from an early stage of an organisation’s journey; to the degree that it is not just about money or the bottom line, but the greater impact. Creating shared value is important to achieve purpose, solve social problems, drive innovation and build sustainable futures.

As I continue my work as a social entrepreneur, striving to reduce food loss and waste, my only regret is not embarking on this path sooner. Be that as it may, I am convinced that all things happen at the right time and that this is my time for me to be in this field, pursuing this calling for a greater good. Africa is our home and it is upon us as Africans to solve the problems that plague us.

Nicodemus Omundo is a sustainable gastronomy chef-entrepreneur and Co-Founder of Food Solidarity International.