The Story of a Solar Powered Store in Beit Hanoun
Stories of Success & Resilience
In 2018, Hanady Sufian Khalil Abu-Herbeidbegan work on a solar powered dried fruit and vegetable business in Beit Hanoun, North Gaza. With the support of her family two years later she launched her home business to nearby grocers, local markets, and retailers.
Beit Hanoun has a small local population that is susceptible to Israeli assaults and bombings, where, to even start a business is a story of resilience. Hanady explains because of its proximal location to Israeli borders the community’s lives, homes, and livelihoods are vulnerable and in danger of further aggressions.
At university, Hanady studied Renewable Energy Engineering, which is where the idea for SolarFood originated. She tells us,
“I didn’t have any experience in drying foods, but my mother did. I am proud to have acquired the relevant knowledge and managed my time well in order to start up this enterprise for it to become my income source."
"In the last two years of my university degree, I managed to build a business and complete my studies. I now have a business which I work in daily as I keep researching, documenting and will continue to reach my goals.”
Whilst war and bombings continue in Gaza, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic means that Hanady’s business was severely affected, however, she tells us,
“I now work very hard every day to rebuild it so that it is even better than before!”
Hanady’s business is a means to preserve food and minimise food waste. Beit Hanoun is an agricultural area where there is access to many varieties of food, but also surplus produce that isn’t sold at the local market. Hanady tells us that “by using solar technology I am able to lower the cost of production of dried foods while ensuring they are free from preservatives and chemicals meeting the demands of my community for providing healthy food.” Hanady produces numerous varieties of dried foods including apples and chilies, as well as herbs and spices such as zaatar and sage, with a ‘made to order’ system for customers with special requests.
“I want to create employment opportunities for women and create the first Palestinian company that uses solar energy to dry fruits and vegetables”
SolarFood seeks to create healthy supply chains and ethical food production, along with employment for women in the agricultural sector. As such, Hanady was invited to join UrbanWomen Agripreneurs Forum (UWAF) at the end of 2020. Since then, UWAF has supported her by providing and importing supplies, digital marketing education for social media platforms, and field day exercises and events where the members are able to connect, support, and learn from each other. The Forum, along with the education and networks it has fostered is something that Hanady finds irreplaceable, especially as the war in Gaza and pandemic continue.
With the funds raised from the campaign, Hanady hopes to move away from labour-intensive and time-consuming production to a workspace where she has access to electronic equipment. Finally, Hanady hopes to connect with a designer who has experience in designing food packaging and labelling so she can reach more customers and further expand her business.
Supporting Hanady realise these business aspirations is as simple as donating to gofundme.