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DowaQa: a cultural and innovative food journey

DowaQa is all about making, transforming and enjoying food with the products and people you have around you. In the next five years, I hope DowaQa will be the pioneer of a healthier and more inclusive food Sudanese industry and culture!

Our mind has no limit. We learn by doing and need to innovate to create. So why should the food we prepare stay minimal? How to change traditional recipes that are restricted by eating customs? This was Nahoda Arbaab’s thought when she started her start-up in 2018, called DowaQa (ضواقة), meaning “to taste” in Arabic. She owns an entertaining platform on Youtube, but her most effective marketing tool is Instagram. Her aim? Raising awareness on Sudanese recipes and products while promoting the innovative food science behind it. Together with women, she makes, creates and caters high-nutritional food and is the torchbearer for a more dynamic Sudanese food environment. OCHQ asked Nahoda more about her ingenious start-up.

Home - Dowaqa

I thrive to inform, integrate and educate the people around me in making recipes at home in an innovative way.

How did you come up with DowaQa?

“I studied chemical engineering in Khartoum, Sudan with a specialisation in the pharmaceutical industry. But my primary interest was the food industry and the natural substance of food, which are nutrients. Too much processed food is detrimental for your health and wellbeing, so I try to avoid using and consuming it as much as possible. I discerned that I used all my spare time in the kitchen. I loved and still love doing it. During COVID-19 this hobby went off to a small-scale business in collaboration with other women that enjoy cooking for themselves and others. We prepare for example food for churches and food bazars and distributed it, from 10 to even 100 meals a day. At that time, I was mainly responsible for exposing what we were doing and thus creating content for our business. These events helped me with collecting the data and with the beginning of my start-up. I was able to elaborate on these practical business experiences as a incubatee in the second cohort of Orange Corners Sudan.”

“So the purpose of DowaQa is to unfold the secrets of the Sudanese cuisine and hone in on the nutritional value of our products. It sometimes surprises people when they discover how rich in nutritions our dishes are, such as Agashi and Sohora. Agashi is a local recipe from the west side of the country, originally made by the Hawsa tribe. Coated in dry peanut rub, meat or chicken is threaded onto sticks and cooked over hot grill till ready. Or Shorara, a pancake originally invented in North-Sudan, containing egg and milk. The method should be simple to make, but the representation can be as original and unique as you want it to be. Think about making triangle pancakes, decoration and the finishing touches.”

Shorara pancake

The purpose is to engage as much women in the food distribution as possible. What I do is that I helping them in finding new customers, which generate revenue for them.

What is DowaQa’s objective?

“I thrive to inform, integrate and educate the people around me in making recipes at home in an innovative way. It has been more than 60 years since traditional food dishes in Sudan have not changed. So my aim is to modernise our traditional food recipes. by changing the recipe and turn it into something more innovative, as the process of making traditional food is sometimes too difficult, too unhealthy and also too cumbersome.

I keep on creating new recipes, packaging them into a ready-to-use box, so people can taste it immediately and fall in love with it. You normally only need one pan to make our beautiful and tasty creations! It should never take longer than an half hour to create something yummy. It is all about facilitating the distribution and the consumption of healthy food.”

Could you tell me more about the social impact of your start-up?

“The purpose is to engage as many women in the food distribution as possible. What I do is that I helping them in finding new customers, which generate revenue for them. When I tell a woman about my concept, she will tell me about her friend and then she tells me about her friend. In this way, we create a big network of women that c more working opportunities and a stable salary. Currently, I work together with 17 women. We either prepare fresh homemade food for others or prepare the packages for the Shorara pancakes, pastries, cookies and cake with cream or chocolate.”

How would your friends describe you?

“I recall another day, when a fellow student was telling me that I have become a real businesswoman, as I was contemplating on automation of my products to increase the number of customers products. I know that one day the manual packing is not doable anymore. I am always trying to overcome the obstacles I face in order to better serve my clients and to smoothen the processes. I hope to hire more qualified people who can work with and for me, at it will absolutely increase our capacity and start-up visibility. I am ready excited for what is coming for DowaQa next!”

What do you like the most about being an entrepreneur?

“I remember October 2019 vividly, when we officially started as a startup. It was one of the greatest things that ever happened to be me, to become a content developer and to participate in the Orange Corners Programme a year later. And not only on the business side actually. Personally, I did not only learn how to be an entrepreneur, I didn’t get to be educated. I also met meet the people who are working in the same sector or on the same line as me. It makes you feel like you’re not alone, and makes you feel like, okay, that’s, that’s actually nice that there are like-minded people like that truly understand what I am going through!

it’s all boils down to deciding to be around these people who are in the same journey as you are. Some of them are already some steps ahead of you and they can tell you what you can do, how to overcome the hardship you will face throughout the journey. In the future, I hope to see that our products will get exported, and the masterclass of the Orange Corners Alumni Community encouraged me to go further with this decision!”

What kind of advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?

“What really helped me was learning by doing, by trying and by experimenting. A start-up is not a destination, it’s a journey. Enjoy the entrepreneurial journey. My aim is encourage stimulate better food choices for people and help them to consume in the best way possible. That is, in my opinion, in an healthy, easy and sustainable way. 30% of food production of world goes to waste, according to the FAO. We really have to reduce this. So taking into account the healthy food in your surroundings and mitigating food insecurity is crucial, next to food education. Try to identify what you have around you; for example tropical fruits you find in Sudan, as boabab, which have a higher percentage of vitamin C than an orange! DowaQa is all about making, transforming and enjoying food with the products and people you have around you. In the next five years, I hope that DowaQa will be the pioneer of a healthier and more inclusive food Sudanese industry and culture!

For more on DowaQa, visit the website:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DowaQa/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/dowaqa?s=21

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dowaqa/?igshid=7gfz933nxy22

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLP3lNjKArXS-2W864ldjjrjXZAROYpNIo

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