Solar Bakery Posts

"You have the energy right over your head, so you have to utilize it"

Posted Friday 5 April 2019 by Lorin Symington.

This is an interview with Derrick, one of the youth mentors at the Gulu SmartUp Factory, Uganda. In the video, he discusses why entrepreneurs need to be dynamic, the health and economics of polluting heat sources like charcoal or wood and some hopes for the future.

The students here in Gulu have little real world experience running a business and it is exciting to see how they are approaching the business that resulted from our solar entrepreneurship education package.

(Sorry, this time the sound quality is not so good)


"I want to be one of the youths who are job creators"

Posted Thursday 21 March 2019 by Lorin Symington.

Meet Angella, one of the young women at SmartUp Factory Tororo who participated in our solar entrepreneurship education training. Angella was one of the most enthusiastic bakers in the group, always with a big smile on her face.

She participated regularly in the roundtable discussions about how to organize the solar baking business that would emerge as a result of this training. Youth unemployment in Uganda is around 80% and Angella and the others are keen to earn an income.

Introducing Angella:


GoSol Solar Training Highlights

Posted Tuesday 12 February 2019 by Lorin Symington.

We’re happy to share with you this video which shows some great moments from the Solar Entrepreneurship Training we conducted in Uganda with Plan International (Uganda) and SmartUp Factory Uganda.

During this course we taught these young Ugandans about solar science, baking, design thinking, entrepreneurship skills and how to install and maintain the SOL5 solar concentrator.

This program is particularly powerful because it comes with everything needed for the participants to learn new skills and have a green job at the end of it. Most of the participants have never run a business before, and now they are gaining real world experience as well as real income.

Our new solar entrepreneurs are battling climate change as well as providing an income for themselves while minimizing the environmental impact of doing business. In many African nations, charcoal and firewood are the primary source of thermal energy for small businesses, and our solution allows micro and small businesses to save money while allowing the forests to grow in peace.

We ran two groups of twelve students through the training program; 12 students in Tororo and 12 students in Gulu are now able to build their entrepreneurship skills and increase awareness of sustainable energy.


The Inspiring Image of the Day !

Posted samedi 26 janvier 2019 by Eva Wissenz.

We are happy to share this image sent by World Vision Kenya. These are solar baked buns produced and sold by our friends at Yier Ngima in Siaya, Kenya.

This group started with a SOL5 roaster to roast peanuts to make peanut butter. They don’t grow enough peanuts to be roasting full-time, and had seen solar baking at Koptige, so Lorin and Jared created a simple baking rack for their roaster and these solar buns are the result of this change !

Their SOL5 was part of our pilot program in Kenya with World Vision and with sponsorship of Wärtsilä.

Consolata and the other ladies peeling peanuts in the shade while their bread bakes :

By diversifying their business, the Yier Ngima group is increasing uptime on their SOL5 and the members are earning more money, with their business based on sweet, clean solar energy.


7 Sustainable Development Goals made real for Eva Nangira, a young solar entrepreneur in Uganda

Posted Thursday 20 December 2018 by Lorin Symington.

We’d like to introduce you to Eva Nangira, one of the youth mentors at the SmartUp Factory Tororo Hub. Eva is a very attentive student and really grasps the significance of our SOL5 oven. In this short video, she describes the impact that the SOL5 oven is having on her life.

Eva focuses on the impact that this business will have on her and the other young women being trained. Women in Uganda face serious challenges when they enter the workforce and it is our hope that along with SmartUp Factory and Plan International, we can empower many more women to become sustainable self employed.

It’s very clear that when you want to do things, you have positivity and an entrepreneurial mindset, the access to energy, to a clean and powerful energy source, is really key. We are so grateful because thanks to entrepreneurs like Eva and all the groups from Kenya and Tanzania, we are proving that there is an appropriate clean energy solution for all these people that are not in developed economies. It is more or less expected that developing countries will develop and grow like Western countries have, but here at GoSol.solar we believe that solutions must be adapted to their reality, and their reality is: tons of sun that they can harvest to be free from fossil fuels and reduce deforestation.

SOL5 replaces fire wood, charcoal, LPG and poor electric grids to power activities during all the sunny season. During the rainy season, the entrepreneurs have to use a mix which is fine because they made savings the rest of the year and they can afford it.

 

The Sustainable Development Goals

Solar thermal energy is accessible for all and once widely implemented, will have dramatic and far reaching effects on our world. The Sustainable Development Goals have been established by the UN for the 2030 Agenda. The 17 SDG’s are the pillars of a new society, based on sustainable development for all.

Our Concentrated Solar Power solution is directly impacting 7 of these goals and affects some others.

Goal 1 End Poverty ​Universal access to solar thermal energy will create new economic opportunities for millions of people in food processing. Energy plays a key role in breaking the poverty trap; when people use clean solar energy that is locally built they can process food and create products with added value.

Goal 5 ​Gender Equality ​By empowering women and girls with access to free, clean solar energy, they have more time to go to school and engage in meaningful income generating activities instead of chopping wood. They’ll also benefit from better health due to reduced exposure to toxic smoke.

Goal 7 Affordable and Clean Energy ​Solar energy is one of the cleanest and most cost effective sources of energy. GoSol solar thermal technology has a return on investment of 18 months.

Goal 8 Decent Work and Economic Growth ​GoSol technology promotes decent work conditions due to the elimination of harmful pollution from burning biomass and enhances economic growth by balancing fossil fuel driven trade deficits while reducing the wasted labour represented by biomass collection and burning.

Goal 10 Reduce Inequalities ​Sunshine is distributed more equally than many other sources of energy. By enhancing distributed access to clean, free solar energy at all levels of society from smallholder farmers to industry, GoSol technology is reducing the inequalities inherent in centralized energy systems.

Goal 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities ​Cities and communities are only as sustainable as the energy upon which they are based. By enhancing access to renewable and clean solar thermal energy, GoSol technology is ensuring communities can thrive long term.

Goal 13 Climate Action ​Solar thermal technology reduces deforestation, particulate pollution and the emission of greenhouse gases. GoSol’s solar thermal technology can be implemented globally to make an impact within the 12 years limit set by the most recent IPCC report.

Recently the International Panel on Climate Change has called for sweeping changes to society in order to minimize the damage of climate change and GoSol technology can play a big role in that.

Our budding entrepreneurs in Uganda have a lot to say and we’ll be sharing more of their stories and perspectives in the coming weeks, stay tuned.


The Inspiring Image of the Day!

Posted Monday 19 November 2018 by Eva Wissenz.

This is from Uganda, were Lorin has now completed the trainings of Smart Up Factory groups of young students entrepreneurs managed by Plan International.

A Smart Sun Bakery is created now and all our team wish them the best of luck to make a profitable and sustainable business with their SOL5!


Solar training in Uganda: Happy Future Entrepreneurs!

Posted Tuesday 18 September 2018 by Lorin Symington.

Two weeks ago I arrived to Tororo, Uganda, to a warm welcome from the Plan International and SmartUp Factory teams. My mission was to train Uganda’s first solar thermal entrepreneurs using our SOL5. Over the short span of two weeks, our education course fully trained the youths in usage, maintenance and entrepreneurial skills, and incubated a solar bakery businesses. The entrepreneurs were not only trained, but were also able to make the first sales of their solar baked goods which generated enough income for them to continue the business on their own! After this training in Tororo I am now moving to the SmartUp Factory in Gulu, Uganda, where I’ll be training the next group of entrepreneurs. I am taking this opportunity to share with you some key moments from the first training course.

The entrepreneurs baked sourdough bread, cookies, muffins and even a birthday cake made to order.

On Monday the Plan International team took me to the Tororo Youth Center, a space on municipal grounds, donated by the Canadian International Development Agency and presently run by Reproductive Health Uganda (RHU). I met 12 young people who were selected by Tororo’s SmartUp Hub to participate to this training and become solar entrepreneurs. 7 young women and 5 young men, about half of whom were alumni of the SmartUp Hub, and 3 of whom are now mentors at the Hub.

Eager students at the first Solar Bakery training at SmartUp Factory Tororo: 7 young women and 5 young men on their way to become solar entrepreneurs.
GoSol's Lorin Symington delivers a class on solar thermal entrepreneurship at SmartUp Factory in Tororo, Uganda.

 

Back to the basis

After introducing myself and GoSol.solar I took the students outside to concentrate the sun. I presented magnifying glasses to each of the students, distributed measuring tapes and asked them to burn some leaves and tell me the focal length of the lenses. The exercise was designed to introduce the solar concentration concept and “break the ice”. It also gave me an opportunity to observe our students. Some were stronger, some were timid, others outspoken, some were natural leaders. I was pleased to see that they all were eager to learn and participate.

Instructor Lorin Symington teaching the students about the power of the sun with magnifying glasses.

 

Hands on training

Overall the training covers a lot of ground. I taught business fundamentals; physics, optics and properties of thermal energy and how to measure it; baking theory and practical baking skills; the world’s energy history and contemporary economic and ecologic issues; as well as the practical skills needed to operate and maintain the SOL5. When we assembled and disassembled the SOL5 multiple times, each student was responsible for calibrating some mirrors, replacing mirrors, and keeping the oven at temperature while their colleagues mixed dough.

Hands on: The students assembled and disassembled the SOL5 multiple times to familiarize themselves with the order of operations.
Preparing the dough: Students learned how to make bread, pastries and other baked goods.

 

Crispy cookies and first clients

Early on the mayor of Tororo and several stakeholders from RHU and other organizations present in the space came to see the machine and speak with me and the class. I presented to them the SOL5 and the goals of the collaboration with Plan International and SmartUp. It was great to see the genuine excitement of the mayor and the stakeholders.

Even before we finished the two weeks of training, word had spread and on several occasions our class got to make direct sales during the course to a customer wanting to try our delicious cookies. We made crispy cookies, gooey cookies, lemon cakes, chocolate cakes, colored cakes, sweet bread, traditional sourdough bread, egg bread and more. One client ordered 35 muffin cakes, and another ordered a birthday cake. The SOL5 really has a magnetic effect which makes it great for starting up businesses. In the marketing class I told the students about the Koptige Bakery in Kenya, which opened a café next to their SOL5 to accommodate the many visitors coming by to see the shiny solar concentrator and have a tasty treat.

 

Discussing UN Sustainable Development Goals

Not only was I a teacher, but I learned a lot as well from the students. One of my favorite exercises was discussing the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Once the students were familiar with the SOL5, GoSol.solar and our mission to create the direct solar economy, I gave the students an assignment to go through all 17 of the UN SDGs and bullet points about how the SOL5 can positively impact each goal. Some answers are clear, but others really impressed me. For instance, regarding SDG 16 - ‘Peace and Justice’ one student answered: ‘If there is more economic activity and people have jobs, then men and women will be working all day, then they’ll rest happily at night and men will be happy and won’t beat the women or children.’ As we always have been convinced by the positive impacts of the SOL5, it was exciting to see the students share in our vision of the direct solar economy.

 

Future solar entrepreneurs

In the final days of the training I barely had to direct the students, they were so self motivated to maintain the SOL5 Oven and bake. The value of the machine was clear to them as they were already running a business making sales to passers by as well as orders. Through participatory sessions we developed the roles and responsibilities for moving the solar bakery forward. The students did market research in the field and we regrouped and analyzed the findings. We also set up the entrepreneurs with a custom spreadsheet where they can track and plan expenses and sales. Based on my experience with our solar bakers in Kenya and Tanzania, the students and I integrated the students’ market research to create financial projections based on the market in Uganda. As usual we proved that the “0 fuel cost” advantage of the SOL5 pays out.

Showcase day! On the last day of training, many guests including representatives from other NGOs, local & federal government, as well as friends and family were invited for the launch of this innovative solar powered bakery business.

Finally, on Friday, September 14th, we held the Demo Day where we invited the mayor, honored guests from Plan International and other organizations from governmental and the NGO sector. The proud students were also able to invite friends and family. We were extremely pleased that Ofwono Apollo Yeri, Member of Parliament for the district of Tororo, joined us and applauded Plan International, SmartUp Factory, GoSol and the Tororo municipality for this innovative project and highlighted the benefits to the youth, environment, economy and Uganda as a whole and the importance of scale-up of our solution.

I am now on my way to the second training course at the SmartUp Factory in Gulu in northern Uganda. I look forward to meeting the next group of soon-to-be solar entrepreneurs and sharing our experiences and outcomes.

Solar baked, packaged and ready for sale! Obwana is very proud of his packaging job, and of the delicious solar cookies inside.
Tasty, golden brown muffins, ready for sale. These muffins were baked without burning charcoal or consuming electricity, increasing profit margins for our new entrepreneurs. .
Solar Entrepreneurs Irene and Grace showing off their freshly baked queen cakes.
The trainees have become entrepreneurs and were able to generate enough cash with the first sales to buy more ingredients to continue their solar business after the training.

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