GIF backs food-tech business which empowers female processors in India.

Apr 02, 2023

GIF is delighted to announce our $2 million investment in S4S (‘Science for Society’) Technologies, the developers of a solar-powered food dehydrator which cuts down food waste and boosts the income of female agricultural entrepreneurs.

Without access to cold storage facilities or transportation, farmers in India are often left with no choice but to sell their produce for cheaper prices towards the end of the day before it rots. S4S Technologies has developed an innovative dryer, designed for use in small villages, which dehydrates excess crops, including fruit, vegetables, grains and spices. This increases the crops’ shelf life by up to one year, meaning farmers have higher-value products and access to more reliable markets to sell their produce.

The processors who convert the crops into dry ingredients using the device are local women, trained by S4S in the use of solar drying technology. These women would not otherwise have a steady source of income, and would instead be working informally as farm labourers in intense heat for up to 10 hours each day, for which they would be paid around $3. S4S’s network of women entrepreneurs can earn over double their previous annual income operating the dryers from their own homes, transitioning them into dignified, remunerative employment.

S4S also purchases lower grade produce from local smallholder farmers, which would otherwise be rejected by buyers due to size, shape or colour, and brings it to the processors to dry. The dried produce is then packaged by S4S at a central facility for sale to large-scale production companies and food service providers.

S4S will use GIF’s investment to improve its model and product offer, strengthen its team, scale procurement and expand into new states. Longer term, it will scale its network to 9,000 women entrepreneurs (from 800) and more than 100,000 smallholder farmers (from 25,000), achieving 200,000 tonnes of processing capacity a year. GIF’s investment is made under ADVANCE, our partnership with Unilever, which provides a way to unlock the private sector investment needed to scale new business models that work towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which present new market opportunities and new jobs.