Revolutionising the Food Processing Industry

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On the sidelines of the 5th World Entrepreneur Investment Forum (WEIF) organised by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), Woman This Month met with the inspiring Sudanese Entrepreneur, Dr Alaa Salih Hamadto. She gave us an insight into her efforts to empower farmers and harness the power of clean energy.

At a time when sustainable energy and food security are top priorities globally, Dr Alaa Hamadto, a Sudanese entrepreneur, is making waves in the food processing industry with her innovative company, Solar Foods.

The entrepreneur was a contributing panelist at the WEIF and shared her experiences in a session focused on “Women, Peace, and Security: Empowering Female Entrepreneurs for Stability in Conflict Zones,” alongside other remarkable entrepreneurs. During the session, Dr. Hamadto highlighted the situation in Sudan, emphasising that the conflict is not a civil war but rather a war over natural resources.

Her journey not only encompasses building a successful business but also empowering women and promoting clean energy with an ambition to globalise the concept and enable developing economies to thrive.

“My passion for clean energy began when my father, a senior scientist at the UK Atomic Energy Authority, returned to Sudan in the 1980s with a vision to promote solar energy as a more efficient source of power,” states Dr. Hamadto. “So, I left my career in dentistry and founded Solar Foods in 2017; a cleantech startup that utilises solar energy to dry food products including vegetables, fruits, meat, and more.”

Her company’s mission mainly revolves around enhancing food security and preventing harvest waste in Sudan, by providing affordable and eco-friendly drying methods to farmers. “Through our innovative approach, we help farmers preserve their produce and create new opportunities for them. We buy products directly from them at fair market rates, dry them using solar energy, and then package and sell them locally and internationally,” she states.

With a presence in over seven countries, including the UAE, the UK, Oman, and Qatar, Solar Foods has become a multi-award-winning company. However, her journey has not been without challenges. The outbreak of armed conflict in Sudan in April last year forced her to shut down her factory and move her operations to Egypt. Despite this setback, she remained committed to her vision and launched a new project in cooperation with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to provide a drying and storage facility in a safe area of Sudan.

“Sudan has been suffering from conflicts over its resources for years. It was nominated to be the world’s food basket and we are trying to shed light on the resources that we have and help with feeding the world again. We want it to become a global hub for dried food products,” she comments.

Through Solar Foods, she intends to create a sustainable model that can be replicated in other developing countries, particularly in Africa. “I believe that by harnessing the power of clean energy, African countries can overcome their energy challenges and achieve economic growth,” she says.

“Furthermore, through my charity organisation, Moves, we aim to support humanitarian causes and work to empower women. In fact, during the COVID-19 pandemic, we successfully raised funds to establish the second-largest isolation centre in Sudan, among other noteworthy initiatives. In addition, we managed to evacuate women and children from conflict zones to safer areas within Sudan and neighbouring countries,” she says.

Dr. Hamadto’s commitment to innovation, sustainability, and empowering women is a beacon of hope for a brighter future. Her story is a testament to women’s potential to create an impact on their community and the world at large.