Foodix: "An Answer to Organic Food Waste"
Finalists of The Youth Challenge are offering an innovation for their local community
"A hard mission and a big responsibility. An interesting challenge yet a scary one."
This is how Samar Abdelfattah, team leader of the "Foodix" project, described her experience at The Youth Challenge.
Samar has participated in many group activities before, but she admits that being a team leader of one of the two finalists this time was a different and exciting experience.
In January 2020, Egypt became one of the host countries of the Youth Challenge 2.0, which is one of the Generation Unlimited (GenU) initiatives. The Youth Challenge was launched under the auspices of the Minster of Youth and Sports and in collaboration between that ministry, UNICEF, UNDP and Plan International.
Egyptian youth from all over the country submitted their business ideas and 5 of them were selected for the semifinals. Among the suggested projects was Foodix; a business idea that focuses on reducing food waste by using technologies to turn it into reusable nutritious livestock feed.
The team members chose Behera governorate in Egypt’s Delta for their prototype. Most of the team members came from this governorate and they wanted to provide a solution for a crucial problem at their community as explained by Adel Elsobky, a team member who studies Medicine at Al-Azhar University: “Because Behera is mostly an agricultural governorate, we felt that we have a bigger opportunity to market our product among local farm owners. When we conducted field research, we found that garbage is a big problem facing our people. The largest proportion of garbage is food, yet it’s the least recycled item.”
After the field study, the team members contacted the owners of restaurants, hotels, university dorms and other venues that dispose leftovers in large quantities. They explained to them that this garbage could have a monetary incentive, an idea that was met with great interest. The idea was also well-received by farm owners who were offered locally-made, less expensive feed for their livestock.
A mobile application was introduced as part of the Foodix business model to act as the liaison between restaurant/hotel owners and livestock farms to deliver recycled food waste. But this was not the only technology that Foodix has developed. Hassan Saeed Ghazala, an engineering student from Behera, who is responsible for the IT in the team, explains: “We developed a device with a sensor that detects spoilage gases like ammonia to ensure the food quality.”
Members of the five competing teams (including Foodix) attended bootcamps, received intensive business development and sector-specific support over two months. Noor Elhoda Moaaz, who studies Languages and Translation at Al-Azhar University, explains how she was impressed by the level of training and support received through MoYS, UNICEF and other partners, saying: “The level of training became more advanced as we took further steps in the challenge. With the different trainers’ support and our ideas, we made it. Success tastes so sweet!”
Foodix has a broader vision to influence the Behera community’s social responsibility on the long term through awareness of eco-friendly behaviors. “By 2035, we aim to produce clean recyclable waste from every household in Behera” said Mohammed Ismaeel, law student and quality head in Foodix.
They also believe their project is globally-scalable as explained by Ahmed Allam, an Arts student and team member: "In our future plan, we want to reach all the cities of the Behera governorate followed by , all the governorates in Egypt, and then scale up to a global level."
The local jury convened by the end of August 2020 to select the most two promising business ideas. Those two business ideas, among which was Foodix, will compete with 72 ideas from 36 countries in the Global Youth Challenge.