Kenya Posts

Presenting Results and a New Application in Kisumu

Posted Saturday 15 April 2017 by Eva Wissenz, Lorin Symington.

Last Friday, on April 7th, at the World Vision Lake Region compound in Kisumu we presented 3 SOL5’s to around 65 representatives from a wide variety of NGOs and the Kisumu County government. It was the occasion for our team to present the spirit of our work, its impact since a year and the synergy with our sponsor and partners.

A wide variety of people from different sectors attended the presentation.

Attendees were primarily involved in agriculture, enterprise development, environmental stewardship and poverty alleviation, all very interested in hearing the results of our first pilots installed about a year ago in the area, and curious about the new food dehydrator we’re presenting.

Attendees inspecting the SOL5's and their different applications.

Chief Officer Lorna Omuodo (below) from the Kisumu County Green Energy and Climate Change Authority expressed her vision of making Kisumu the premiere sustainability county in Kenya.

Chief Officer Lorna Omuodo: "Let's make Kisumu the premiere sustainability county of Kenya"

The day was beautiful, though the morning was too cloudy to bake all the goodies Lorin and Heikki (below) had planned, there was enough sun to show the focal point and for people to witness the power of our solar concentrators.

Lorin Symington and Heikki Lindfors of in front of the SOL5 solar concentrators.

We were happy to welcome Mr. George Oywer, from Wärtsilä, who presented his company and their sponsorship of GoSol. Also presenting were Maija Seppala, Chris Asego and Joseph Tinkoi, representing World Vision Finland’s WEconomy Start Program and World Vision Kenya’s livelihoods and resilience program.

To top it off we welcomed back David Chepkwony (below), our first solar (and happy) baker who you met last year. He shared his daily experiences and use of SOL5 oven, making a strong appeal to the county government to GoSol.

Solar Baker David Chepkwony presenting on his experience with GoSol.
David Chepkwony spreading his enthusiasm for solar baking.

Solar for All – From Vision to Reality

Posted Wednesday 5 April 2017 by Urs Riggenbach.

Today we are looking back at a year of intense R&D, prototyping, piloting and partnership building in Kenya, Finland and the US, taking us from our vision to an actual proof-of-concept.

At we have been working hard to address the need of millions of entrepreneurs in emerging markets who need cost-efficient and sustainable clean energy to run their businesses. We are developing our own solar concentration technology through applications that provide high-quality heat while aiming at a payback period of less than 1 year. Such a market-based solution would allow a massive number of entrepreneurs to take advantage of solar, and provide the fuel for broader societal transformations as we have outlined in the GoSol Manifesto.

As we have reported earlier, since February part of our team is back in Kenya, following up on the pilot project that we started in cooperation with Weconomy and World Vision before Summer. Last May we installed two SOL5 solar concentrators at a bakery and a peanut-roastery. Even though our local partners have been reporting on the pilots regularly, it was amazing to re-meet the entrepreneurs after leaving the machines with them for more than 9 months, and seeing that they are still used every day and are providing actual value to these entrepreneurs.


Starting up in Kenya with Weconomy

Before our Kenya pilots we faced a big challenge: How do we as a Finnish company get in touch with low-income entrepreneurs to pilot our solar tech in emerging markets? How do we make sure to get the right entrepreneurs, how do we monitor the situation from a distance, how would we provide additional support if needed? Enter Weconomy, an initiative by World Vision Finland who operates in Kenya (among other countries). As one of the world’s largest NGOs, World Vision recognizes that they can play a crucial role by facilitating piloting activities for impact-oriented companies like ours, and they are offering this through their Weconomy program.

Weconomy contributed significantly to the success of our Kenya pilots and their support can be key for any impact-oriented company. Because World Vision Kenya has been supporting the creation of lending groups and business cooperatives in Kenya for a long time, they are well connected to local entrepreneurs and know the capacitation process it takes to set up new business activities. In the planning phase of the project it was Weconomy who identified the suitable entrepreneurs and project sites. They identified the workshop to construct the machines, arranged the transport and capacity building sessions, and connected us with other stakeholders in the country once the the machines were installed.


Proofing Solar Entrepreneurship

When we left the country after a few weeks, a new seed was planted. Now started the monitoring phase where Weconomy would actively facilitate local World Vision Kenya staff to collect user data to help us measure our impact. So without having our own staff on-site and without relying entirely on the entrepreneurs for self-monitoring we were able to gather data to proof our impact.

The data we gathered speaks volumes, and we’ve already shared some in a blog post earlier, but even better is to hear it directly from our entrepreneurs themselves. This year we’re back in Kenya and we have interviewed one of our end-users on his experience with GoSol as a baker, and this is what David had to say:


New Energy for 2017 – Kenya and Tanzania!

Few days ago we officially announced our founding sponsor: Wärtsilä. Through this sponsorship, Wärtsilä has committed to support African societies and businesses and is backing our piloting projects in Kenya and soon Tanzania and the scale-up of our solution through pilots and education.

With their support, we are boosting our piloting in rural areas, but for the first time we are also entering a refugee camp where our technology could play a key role in alleviating energy poverty in short future (see video). This year we will also be entering Tanzania for the first time with a local partner, continuing to develop and adapt our technology to the needs of real-world entrepreneurs.

As we move forward, we wanted to take this moment and reflect on the last months and what we have accomplished. With the genuine feedback from our entrepreneurs in Kenya and the data gathered in cooperation with World Vision and Weconomy, we are now at a point where we can say that through, Solar Fire Concentration is supporting real-world solar entrepreneurs. As we move forward we want to thank all the entrepreneurs, supporters, sponsors and partners that have allowed us to get this far.


Stay tuned for more!


More information:
- Weconomy
- Wärtsilä


Return to Solar Oven in Kenya

Posted Tuesday 4 April 2017 by Lorin Symington.

Thanks to the support of our founding sponsor Wärtsilä we are back Kenya since two months, following up on the pilot projects that we started in cooperation with Weconomy and World Vision about a year ago. It was amazing to re-meet the entrepreneurs after leaving the machines with them for more than 9 months, and seeing that they are still used every day and are providing actual value to these entrepreneurs. Stay tuned.

Wärtsilä sponsors GoSol in Kenya and soon in Tanzania

Posted Wednesday 29 March 2017 by Eva Wissenz.

All the team is happy to announce that Wärtsilä is now sponsoring our work to empower entrepreneurs in Kenya and in Tanzania.

Check out Wärtsilä’s announcement.

SOL5 Oven a Kakuma Refugee Camp with UNHCR

Posted Tuesday 28 March 2017 by Urs Riggenbach.

This is the first time we demonstrated a SOL5 inside a refugee camp, marking an important milestone on our path to make solar energy more accessible.

Last week, Lorin and Heikki of demonstrated the SOL5 Solar Oven in the Kakuma refugee camp at the the United Nations High Commission for Refugee’s offices.

First demo of solar oven for refugees

Posted Wednesday 22 March 2017 by Eva Wissenz.

Lorin Symington updates on experience in and around Kakuma refugee camp in Turkana region of Kenya. The Oven is complete and a local Turkana women helps test with the first cake baked with the Sol5 in Turkana!

Solar Oven Landing in Refugee Camp

Posted Monday 27 February 2017 by Lorin Symington.

Our team is honoured and excited to be installing our Sol5 baking system at Kakuma in Northern Kenya in the Turkana region. Trees are slow to grow in normal circumstances and to make things worse the region is in the midst of a long drought. On the plus side, the skies are clear and blue for 300+ days of the year, making Kakuma an ideal area where our tech can have substantial impact on the environment and the livelihoods of both refugees and the local Turkana people.

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