Blog of Eva Wissenz

Followup visit in the Philippines: 8 months later

Posted Monday 27 April 2020 by Eva Wissenz.

We recently revisited our partners USTP (The University of Science and Technology of the Southern Philippines) and CarbonCycle in Cagayan de Oro, Philippines.

Nearly a year has passed since Lorin was last in the Philippines working with CarbonCycle to power their ‘waste to riches’ business model with Lytefire, assisted by ‘on the job’ trainee students from the Faculties of Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences. Together, we are still seeking R&D funding from DOST and other Filipino government initiatives.

Since then, the mechanical engineering students have made a few modifications to the cashew roaster we Installed a Lytefire5 Multi at a facility owned by the women’s group BAPPCO (Best Agri Products Processing Cooperative).

The roasting drum now rotates automatically thanks to the installation of a 150W solar panel on top of the oven.

The students also created a new end-loading and unloading door for the cashews, actuated by reversing the direction of spin of the roasting drum.

Lorin, as well as Dale from CarbonCycle met with Bronson Mabulay, the Director of Innovation and Technology Solutions and Dr. Ambrosio Cultura, who last year was Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation the but is now President of the University. They brought with them the architect in charge of the new TechnoPark that is being built as a hub to promote the commercialisation of products developed by USTP students as they progress with their studies.

It was generally agreed that there would be some space saved for solar concentrators on the grounds and rooftops of the new TechnoPark. :)


We’re coming to your doorstep !

Posted lundi 30 mars 2020 by Eva Wissenz.

Last Christmas, as an act of faith in people’s empowerment and in our solution to play a significant role in climate change crisis resolution, we have released in open source and for free the construction manual of one of our solar concentrator.

Since then, the successful GoSol’s prototypes became Lytefire products that you can now pre-order through our on-going campaign. So, basically, you could have one in your backyard !!

We have decided to run this campaign with multiple goals because so many populations need what we have to offer ! Poor bakers in West Africa, Smart Up Factory project in Uganda with Plan International, middle class Europeans willing to go off grid to power their ecological bakery or offer a true sustainable option to a well-being activity with a carbon neutral solar sauna, you name it ! You can support one of these sub-campaigns and/or pre-order your unit (the more pre-orders, the more investors will be likely to identify that we are a powerful solution to mitigate climate change crisis).

On top of the solar concentrators, our expertise is in education. We have created since 2018 a powerful training to help users to become successful solar entrepreneurs in vulnerable region. This training was implemented first with the NGO Plan International in Uganda (check full project here).

Now the Covid-19 is harming us as it’s harming many social and impact enterprises so we came up with 2 solutions :
1) Our construction manual is now priced on a sliding scale (it’s up to you !)
2) Since we probably wont be able to travel in a while, we are crowdfunding to create on-line educational material because yes, nothing can’t stop us and if we can’t travel to train people, we’ll come right to your doorstep then !!

Please share the message and support us !!https://lytefire.com/stream


Happy New Year 2020 !

Posted vendredi 17 janvier 2020 by Eva Wissenz.

Dear Friends, Clients, Partners, Followers and Supporters,

We wish to see more peace and more justice everywhere. We wish that change makers do become more and more and more visible. We wish for more coherence and ethics in all fields. For ourselves, we wish to scale up and continue our impactful work in a sustainable way.

Watch our impact with "7 Sustainable Development Goals made real for Eva Nangira, a young solar entrepreneur in Uganda" :


Best Validation Ever in Kenya

Posted Tuesday 12 November 2019 by Eva Wissenz, Jared Omondi.

For a company, especially an impact company like ours, the best validation comes from the field. Last week, our representative in Kenya, Mr Jared Omondi, sent us the short clip below. It shows one of the pilot solar concentrators we installed in 2017 in the Kisumu area, in Kenya. And... it’s still in use!!

First the unit was given to the Tinderet bakery but when their team decided to reduce the baking activity because the chief baker got a better job elsewhere, they decided to transfer the solar concentrator to Friends of Ndere, a very active baking community which had already one of our solar concentrators. In spite of this being one of our pilot units, they are still using this unit to bake since then.

In this short clip (in swahili - sorry, too much happening we don’t have time to translate), Joyce the baker is explaining to Jared that what people like most are their buns and breads. People around really LOVE their breads because they are well baked with a nice light brown colour and the buns remain fresh for 4-5 days.

When so many projects are failing because of maintenance issues, we are succeeding because the users can maintain the Lytefire ovens easily, they can replace if a mirror breaks, and they are continuously making money with their production as well as using the oven for themselves. Joyce and the Friends of Ndere are using the Lytefire 4 days a week and even with a bit of faded mirrors that were not replaced since 2017, the baking oven reaches 220°C.

These amazing communities were introduced to us by our partner World Vision Kenya and the piloting phase happened thanks to Wärtsilä’s sponsorship, Autodesk Foundation’s support and Finnpartnership’s support.


GoSol showing off in Switzerland

Posted mardi 5 novembre 2019 by Eva Wissenz, Judith Bernet.

This autumn is so exciting that we didn’t get any chance to blog and share a bit more with you guys !! Some of our GoSol-team came together in Switzerland. This was a good chance to plan our next steps and cook solar meals all together, and also it was a great opportunity to present GoSol next projects and the Lytefire solar concentrator to Switzerland !

Will Cleaver and Lorin Symington spent long days at the workshop at the Rosegghof (our Swiss Headquarters in Solothurn). The result was a brand new, bright version of our solar concentrator, the Lytefire, and a hybrid solar roaster/oven ! And the best way to explain how the Lytefire works is to show it !

That is exactly what we did at our “Experience Event” at the Rosegghof. With about 25 guests we enjoyed pizza together, drank coffee and tea, and distilled essential oil of rosemary to produce our own deodorant and scents – all of it only with solar energy from our Lytefire ! A few weeks after, early October, we did another event focused on baking and the result was a-ma-zing ! We can tell you, that a solar baked “Hefezopf” (a Swiss kind of sweet bread) is really delicious !

And pastry chef Linda Gutknecht from Linda’s Art in Solothurn produced some solar cupcakes and got really excited about solar baking saying that "it’s even better than her electric oven", so there will be more Solothurner solar baking in the near future for sure.

Our partner Beto Borges from Forest Trends also joined us in Solothurn for an evening presentation. Beto presented our work in the Amazon, and talked about the importance of forest stewardship, and how a solution like GoSol approach can enhance the stewardship of communities in the Amazon forest by helping to sustainable add value to non timber forest products.

Lorin Symington spoke about the philosophy and history of GoSol, and shared his experience building solar concentrators in the Philippines and East Africa. Kurt Bauman, vocational teacher and early adopter of our solar concentrator, was also here to share his user experience since 2015 and present our educational training.

Urs Riggenbach then showed the next steps that are planned, and how to get involved with GoSol. The event ended with fruitful conversations with our guests while enjoying a nice glass of wine.

Even though autumn in Solothurn is best known for heavy fog, we had some amazing luck : at the HESO 2019 we could show off our Lytefire with perfect blue sky ! Read on here about how we fried delicious veggie-burgers, pan-roasted almonds, and produced our first Solothurner solar roasted coffee beans.

Next step : the GoSol Impact Event in Zürich the 14th of November 2019. We would love to meet you and meet the impact investors that will scale up with you. Check it out here !


Strike if you wish but more than this: take action.

Posted Friday 20 September 2019 by Eva Wissenz.

It is now 7 years since we created Solar Fire and GoSol.

As friends, we are more than happy. Our team is still united no matter what. We overcame hundreds of challenges together, and we’re still here. Older, tougher, wiser hopefully, and enthusiastic.

As sustainable humans, we are more than happy as well because our work has empowered about 100 people in the field. We sometimes have lost track of caring for ourselves sustainably because we sometimes considered severe issues that farmers and entrepreneurs are facing in developing countries as more important than our spoiled Western sensibilities.

As start-uppers, we can’t complain. We started with nothing. We now have successful prototypes, an amazing network of partners and sponsors, and our first clients. Without living a big take off success, we are still active and believe me, that is something extraordinary.

Eerik and I landed in Finland and we became emigrants, parents and entrepreneurs at the same time. Lorin spent months and hours in extreme conditions in almost 10 developing countries, to build and refine the applications we developed. Eerik and Arnaud killed their eyes creating a software to scale up our tech, and so did Urs rocked the show with IT, partnerships and comm while Will was building solar concentrators in the Amazon. These guys are my heroes.

The first Earth Day was in 1970. 49 years ago. Things got as bad as predicted at the time. Since then, tons of solutions and thousands of social entrepreneurs, volunteers, NGOs and citizens are doing their best to fix that.

2-3 years ago Sikkim (a state in North India), Costa-Rica, Bolivia and a few other small places started to show the way; Scandinavia and Germany are showing the way in Europe. It’s good, but it’s not enough and nothing will be enough until we fix the massive ongoing disaster which is social, environmental, economical and political.

So 49 years later, after tons of costly meetings between huge agencies, governments, and powerful people, the Voice is a... teen.

Excuse me but where are the grown ups who are supposed to protect those teens? Where are you? There is no time to be discouraged or despairing, no time for scepticism. So now you spend a week-end online, read the studies, watch all the docs you wish, choose your cause and join a sustainable team now, because it’s now or… now.

Strike if you feel the call. Make it a pause, a dialogue, a creation or a fight, as you wish.

But, please, take action.

Join any sustainable and inspiring project you can find, they need you for sure and for all our sakes, take action.

If you feel the call, we are working on a crowdfunding campaign and we need volunteers to spread the news of our work far and wide. If you are interested, read Our Philosophy first and contact me: eva.wissenz (at) gosol.solar

Article logo courtesy of Mona Caron.


Impact Finland next week

Posted mardi 30 avril 2019 by Eva Wissenz.

I’m very excited and happy to represent my team at the InnoFrugal 2019 pitching contest on May 7th and to be invited as a speaker at Waves Festival.

In Finland, "social entrepreneurship" is connected to "social service". The culture of impact (start-up, companies, investment) is almost starting here where Denmark or Sweden are much more advanced ! We were so focused on our goals that we didn’t fully realized that context when we started here in Tampere. In a way, it makes things hard but on another hand, it’s exciting because there is almost everything to create !

The Aalto University incubator named New Global was launched to explore sustainable ways to do business and to engage even more the Finnish society into social - impact - sustainable entrepreneurship. Next week, their Waves Festival will bring together impact entrepreneurs to define what can be the next steps to take to make our work more visible and more supported.

InnoFrugal started in 2015 as a conference which is an "intersection where leadership, finance, technology and transformation come together to empower people and organizations." Created by Venkata Gandikota, the event is quite big now and the next edition is happening next week as well.


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