Alan Browde, CEO and founder of SA Harvest, is driven by his ultimate goal of putting an end to the hunger crisis in South Africa.
Alan founded SA Harvest in Cape Town in 2019, and the organisation actively ‘rescues’ nutritious surplus food that would ordinarily go to landfill before distributing it to those who need it most.
For a few months after launch, SA Harvest was delivering round 5,000 meals per month, and in just two years, that amount has sky-rocketed to close to 450,000 meals per month.
Alan started SA Harvest with the IP of Ronni Kahn’s OzHarvest in Australia – now one of the leading food rescue operations in the world.
Unsurprisingly, Alan says that Ronni has been one of the most notable influencers in his life and he is so proud of what she has achieved over the years. Alan and Ronni grew up together in Sandringham, Johannesburg. As next-door neighbours, Alan spent a great deal of time with his friend, especially since Ronni’s mom was known to make the most delicious peanut butter sandwiches! The two of them quickly formed a strong, sibling-like bond and were always together. Despite parting ways for many years following matric, Ronni and Alan retained a close bond and eventually found their way back to one another once again.
Alan talks about how he was enthralled with the idea behind OzHarvest and the incredible impact that it made. He wanted to do something similar back home in SA – an ambition that Ronni herself shared. After all, they were both well aware of the fact that close to 10 million tonnes of food goes to waste in SA every year, while 19 million or more go to sleep hungry every night.
“So I went to Australia, and I learned the ins and outs of the business. I drove the trucks, carried the boxes, and washed the dishes so that I could develop a greater understanding of how it all worked and what exactly went into it,” he explains.
When he returned to South Africa, Alan felt confident that he was prepared to make a lasting difference. Since then, he has worked with a number of donors, manufacturers, and retailers across the food ecosystem, including Atlantis Seafood Products. He is focused not only on distributing large volumes of food to the hungry, but also on ensuring that the meals provided are well-balanced and nutritious. This includes sourcing a wide variety of proteins, and he insists that with its high nutritional content and Omega-3s, there is no finer protein than fish.
“It’s so gratifying to receive fish products because they’re nutritional gold!” he says.
Alan has always loved seafood, probably due, in large part, to the many fishing trips that he would take with his grandfather out in Kalk Bay from when he was just three years old. He’s almost as passionate about seafood as he is about bringing relief to hungry people across the country. He is extremely proud of the difference that SA Harvest is making through the various contributions from generous donors – seafood and all other food products included.
“People don’t realise the extent of the catastrophe. When over a third of the country does not have enough food the suffering is horrendous and, what’s more, inexplicable in a country where there is a surplus. It’s time we all got together – citizens, civil society and government – to end the injustice of hunger, Alan says.
The SA Harvest team, now comprises over 20 full-time staff operating a total of eight trucks out of four branches in three provinces.
“Working to change systems that are wrong gives one a sense of purpose. In this sense our team is absolutely phenomenal. I’ve never experienced anything like it anywhere in my life. Everyone is driven by knowing that they are part of the change that is required in our country. These are men and women who are absolutely dedicated to what they’re doing and it’s a life-changing experience to be part of it,” Alan concludes.