“Science is the best idea humans ever had — it is the pursuit of pure truth.” 

Atinuke Lebile might be young, but her unique combination of insight and determination are already taking her far. 

“In my yearning to contribute to ease the burden of poverty and food insecurity affecting many people in developing countries, I embraced science, because it has the potency to address problems on a sustainable basis. More so, the practical and evidence-based nature of science helps to unlock the creative capabilities of the mind which could be harnessed to create sustainable solutions to the challenges that people face.” 

“Growing up, I was greatly influenced by the entrepreneurial drive of Mrs Ibukun Awosika, who was successfully able to climb from her science background to becoming a business magnate.” Now, she says, “I am an agri-entrepreneur, mostly engaged in farming, processing and marketing of innovative biofortified food products.”

Atinuke earned a Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Science from the University of Ilorin, Nigeria. While still a student, she co-founded an agro-processing company dedicated to developing innovative food products from biofortified crops which now partners with HarvestPlus. 

“Every year Cato Foods produces and sells about 62 tonnes of vitamin A gari, fufu, and casstard — a variant of custard made from vitamin A cassava,” she says.

She’s also the program and membership coordinator for the Nigerian chapter of Young Professionals for Agricultural Research Development and a 2017 Mandela Washington Fellow.

“I have come to realise that gender is not a barrier to becoming great,” she says. “I strongly believe that if you are driven to unlock your creative and innovative spirit, then science is the sure way to go. It will give you the platform to fully express yourself and to create the positive impact you envisage.”