Uganda Posts

First trainings completed for Rape Hurts Foundation

Posted Wednesday 22 February 2023 by Allen Wilson Odongo.

The bottom line of the training is that these girls would be able to open up their own businesses managed by themselves. By doing so, by becoming active sustainable entrepreneurs, the hope is that their problems of dependency and idleness would end.
There are people who have been able to see what Lytefire can do and to them it was at first all magic!

With a mission to reduce pain, suffering and poverty among the underprivileged and marginalized especially the women and children in Uganda, Rape Hurts Foundation (RHF) is a Non Profit at the forefront of the fight for women rights in Uganda. Before Lytefire was installed, RHF was using gas, hydro electricity and as usual, wood and charcoal for cooking and ironing. The Lytefire is now being used to bake bread, queen cakes, party cakes, banana muffins, buns and roasted salted ground nuts for sale.

Here at the Jinja RHF office, there are two Lytefire solar ovens, one dehydrator and one boiler. Currently, all the two ovens are being operated by six workers (three on each machine). 30 trainees have undergone this training since November 2022. Four of these workers, two ladies and two gentlemen are RHF employees attached to this project by their organization.

Delicious solar roasted peanuts create a significant source of revenues.

The most successful recipe in terms of sales volume is roasted salted groundnuts (above). Solar roasting works really well in all countries and seems to be a great business model (check here the other Solarpreneurs using Lytefire solar). In Uganda, the trainees have been roasting 5 kg of peanuts per round, which make them 11 packets of nuts at 5000UGX (1,30€). With growing demand e.g from school canteens, more retail outlets, pubs and more super markets, we can imagine that these young ladies can go up to 2 rounds a day with an average sale of 78 000 UGX (20€) per week, 2 days a week. This would get them 160€/month. The average salary in Uganda is 35€.

The other products have also picked up that explains why they are being produced on a daily basis. We were able to produce delicious dried jackfruits (see picture below) and pineapples. The dried fruits tasted sweeter, crunchy and like honey. Excellent results.

They say that solar dried jackfruit is like honey.

Baking days are everyday even on Sundays after prayers. This shows commitment by the workers and means that they are producing more and enlarging their market as well.They are making rounds of Banana muffins (72 pieces), Queen cakes (96 pieces),Buns (180 pieces), Peanut butter cookies (108 pieces), one round of Bread (9 pieces of 400g).

Impressive solar baked goods!

Bakery products that require BFT (Bulk Fermentation Time) like bread and buns must be produced first very early in the morning. This can be from six in the morning. This arrangement allows time for fermentation and proper gluten development. This is then followed by the rest of the items such as queen cakes, banana muffins, peanut butter cookies, and party cakes which require Low Temperature but Long Time (LTLT).

The Demonstration day was the last Friday of January 2023 which fell on 27th. It was a very colourful day attended by the participants of the first and second Jinja training. The total number of people were 80 including the 30 trainees who were handed over Certificates of attendance by the Chief Guest. Augustine and I were also honoured by giving us Certificates of appreciation showing that as trainers, we did a great job for them.

Demo day is always a good way to reward participants and celebrate the good work.

The highlights of the day were the speeches by the Chief Guest and lady councilor representing the local people at the Jinja City Hall. Then came the tear dropping speech from the MD of RHF herself, Hellen Lukunse. There were other occasions of course like cutting the cake, launching of RHF Sanyu Bakery, eating and dancing to traditional music.

Long live Lytefire solar oven.
Allen Wilson Odongo/ SFCO Trainer in Baking Technology.

Love for life celebration

Posted Tuesday 14 February 2023 by Eva Wissenz.

Dear Friends,

Today is the day to tell you how much we love life, forest, empowered humans and balanced eco-systems. Love is the root, always. We wish you lots of love and loving choices to make this world a better place.

Picture: Valentine’s cake - solar baked by Nebbi’s Smart Up bakery in Uganda and Prudence Ladegi, solar baker :)

First solar bakery running at Rape Hurts Foundation

Posted Friday 9 December 2022 by Eva Wissenz.

After a successful first training for a very nice group at Rape Hurts Foundation, the participants have been able to start their solar baking production with great success.

All together, Augustine Olowo, Allen Odongo and Sam Rodrigues have organized a great training.

Hellen Lunkuse W. Tanyinga, founder of RHF, says they are selling like crazy. Four people are involved in continuing the bakery and for now they are baking 200 buns each day, and selling easily to nearby shops and people who know them.

One can read on the wall of Rape Hurts Foundation: "A world in which human and children realize their full Human Rights, Health, Social-Economic and Civic potential." That is what we are willing to achieve as well, one solar oven at the time (and more and more actually!).

This project starts really well and the team can’t wait to continue after the holidays with more training’s.

This is made possible because of the close cooperation of RHF and ’s SELF, Solar Electric Light Fund, a US based NGO financing this project.

And a big thank you to Joan for organizing the shipping brilliantly, and to Jared, Josef and the workers in Kenya for building all this!

Nebbi Solar Bakery Preparing a Cake for Uganda’s President’s Son’s Birthday

Posted Friday 16 September 2022 by Eva Wissenz.

What a lovely birthday cake! It has been solar baked by Nebbi solar bakery for General Muhoozi for his birthday celebration in May 2022.

Then, on August 26th, 2022, during the International Youth Day Celebration held last month in different cities in Uganda, Nebbi solar bakery has gained national recognition in Gulu. "The team has been recognized for the great work in ending poverty through skilling and environmental conservation through the use of solar oven", says Prudence, team leader.

General Muhoozi Kainerugaba is the son of the actual President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni. The President could taste this delicious cake and have a look the oven while congratulating Prudence, the Head Baker.

Nebbi is one of the most performant groups trained by the team with the support of Plan International Uganda and Plan International Finland. Check their clip here!

Congratulations to this super motivated team!

Feeling the Entrepreneurship Spirit in Uganda

Posted Sunday 8 May 2022 by Urs Riggenbach.

I have just returned from an amazing trip to Uganda and Kenya to see firsthand the amazing impacts of Lytefire with some of the 250+ entrepreneurs we have empowered in the last 12 months.

Visiting the training site in Uganda

As you know we have not only developed the Lytefire solar tech but also the entrepreneur-trainings to train women and youths to run their own solar businesses - with no prior experience.

The big mission we have taken on at Solar Fire, has made the last years of business development really hard for us. Awareness of solar concentration is still low vis-à-vis photovoltaics, and little focus is on solving the energy problems of the millions of entrepreneurs in low-income regions. With a truly decentralized energy source we also don’t fit the old centralized models that brought the climate and poverty crisis in the first place. But one beautiful result of our work is that we are sharing our experience with entrepreneurship and are able to provide all the key ingredients to create solar bakeries: From the Lytefire Oven to the baking skills, the entrepreneurship skills and the technical skills to maintain a Lytefire with local materials, something that fundamentally sets us apart.

Just like Solar Fire faces many challenges in scaling up, there are so many barriers our solar entrepreneurs need to overcome on a daily basis. But the basis of doing business is selling your product. To do that, yes you need a product, but you also need to have the courage to go out there and sell it. And if nobody buys, you don’t succeed.

As CEO of Solar Fire since a few months, my work is very demanding, being involved with both the delivery and acquisiton sides, keeping a bird’s eye perspective and going down to the nitty-gritty of day-to-day activities on a constant basis. We had just reached a milestone on the fundraising side and at the same time a major training program was coming to a close: It was time to jump on the opportunity to visit the projects, the entrepreneurs and see old and new team members, with 6 of them whom I would meet for the first time in real life!

So during my trip, I was able to visit one of the last training courses for a project we are delivering to our client Plan International in Tororo, Uganda.

It was a hot, sunny day, and after our bakery trainer Allan finished his first segment on making muffins (known as Queen Cakes in Uganda), the muffins were in the solar oven and our entrepreneurship trainers Callum and Hanna continued on the bookkeeping part of the training.

I’ve taken such workshops before and my body immediately reacted with a wave of tiredness as my mind wandered to the 30 other things demanding my attention at Solar Fire.

The typing noise of calculators that were handed out brought me back just 10 minutes into the session, and I noticed the strong engagement of the group. Callum asked, “Why is there more money in the account than cookies were sold?”. - A participant: “Shouldn’t we have cookies left?”- Another: “No, all cookies were sold by Sunday”. Callum: “So, clearly someone sold cookies between last Friday, brought the money into the account but did not subtract it from the inventory nor add it to the bookkeeping. You see, just now, a day after it happened it is hard to reconstruct what happens. That’s why the bookkeeping needs to be done right way. OK. Let it be a lesson and reminder for us. Let’s go into this”. …and they proceeded to figure out exactly who made the sales, and updated the accounting based on this, if you ask me, very positive problem.

Even what I would consider the most “dry” and theoretical part of the training was made engaging through the entrepreneurial reality we are creating in the short time our trainers are on-site. And it continued: As the muffins came out of the oven, the instructions were very clear: “No snacking”. I had to withstand my urge to just grab a delicious looking muffin: I asked about the rule and it is something they developed through the trainings: If you make it clear that every muffin snacked is a muffin not sold and a direct loss for the bakery, people’s business mindset is honed and put in place from the beginning.

Now we were inside a large compound in a hall where the training was conducted, outside on the main road construction works were happening. I would say a 10 minute walk from the construction site. Yet suddenly a man enters the building and asks if he can buy some Queen Cakes. A sale happened and I was really impressed: The word of mouth is really working, and the solar bakery is quickly worth a visit just because of it’s innovative aspects, and at the end of this day, all queen cakes were sold again, to few additional clients that the participants had called and animated.

The participants all made sales, brought in cash through their work and had a real entrepreneurial success just after one week when I arrived, and at the end of the second week, our trainers left them with a profit in their account and an inventory of starter-ingredients for them to efficiently continue running their bakery. This entrepreneurship-creation process was really impressive to experience firsthand. It was extremely motivating to see how with Lytefire we can create real entrepreneurship opportunities wherever we go.

The experience was confirmed by the various other solar entrepreneurs I got to meet on my trip, and from some of them, you will soon hear more!

Stay tuned.

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Our Solar entrepreneurs in Nebbi after Lytefire training!

Posted Wednesday 20 April 2022 by Hanna Williams.

It has been over 3 months since the training in Nebbi in January and since the trainers left it has been an incredible success! With the Solar Fire team in constant contact with the ‘Smart Up Solar Bakery’ we have witnessed and experienced their passion, motivation and dedication running their very own solar bakery since the 3 week training took place!

They continue to bake every week with the team that were selected for training but they also now train other vulnerable youths in the rural area how to bake with solar so they have access to the knowledge. This has also provided an awareness for the environmental issues. Instead of relying on electricity, charcoal and firewood to bake, the Nebbi team have expanded their education of solar science to train other youths by presenting the power of the Lytefire oven and utilizing a natural resource, the sun!

It is the rainy season now here in Uganda, but the hub utilizes the sun’s energy wherever possible and has baked with the Lytefire oven nearly every day!
As Nebbi is one of the newest Smart Up Hubs, they receive so much support from their local community and the plan offices which are close by. Since January when the first 3 week training took place each week the nebbi smart up hub has been generating over 100,000ugx sales a week!

The future shines bright with the ‘Sun Light Solar Bakery!’ in Alebtong

Posted Friday 8 April 2022 by Hanna Williams.

The journey continues with Plan International’s Smart Up Factory as the team visits Alebtong, the most rural area the trainers have visited so far! In the Northern region of Uganda, a 40 minute drive west from Lira District. The surroundings of Alebtong are vast with long stretches of beautiful green land, dusty terrains and livestock farming.
The climate in Alebtong has very hot dry summers with mother Earth providing the harmony and balance of the wet rainy seasons providing a green abundance of agricultural farming.

The purpose of this project is to provide underprivileged women and youth in this very rural area in Uganda solar baking and entrepreneurship training in order for the Alebtong hub to have a running bakery to offer delicious baked bread and other solar baked goods to their local community! The Alebtong Smart Up hub location is a 15 minute boda ride from the very small town but in the close surrounding areas there is a school, the Town Council Headquarters and a police station! All of which have been very supportive during the first few weeks, visiting the hub, discovering the power of the LyteFire solar oven and buying baked goodies from the bakery!

As one of the smallest hubs the team has visited, the hub and Alebtong town embodies a spirit of a very supportive and communal family. The Smart Up students worked together in teams, advancing their many skills in different areas, always eager and yearning to learn more! The mission for this training is to deliver a unique type of education that hasn’t been provided before in Alebtong to allow the participants to gain a diverse set of training skills and knowledge other than hairdressing and tailoring which are very competitive businesses within Uganda.

We hope with this training that we provide this hub the opportunity to be an independent and running solar bakery in Alebtong as it is a district like Nebbi but on an even smaller scale! They do not have a bakery in this area so one problem we wish to help solve is creating an income for youths that suffer to find employment especially in such rural areas like Alebtong. Their bakery business will also support the local community with delicious freshly baked bread which is a cheaper alternative for Alebtong shopkeepers that will no longer need to pay for the transportation of food products from towns or cities further afield. We hope for them to build an active and loyal relationship with customers to form a trustworthy reputation within the Alebtong community where the Smart Up students can provide locals with delicious goodies baked locally with the power of the sun!

One Lytefire unit has been provided at the Alebtong hub alongside a 3-week intensive training course in entrepreneurship, technical and baking skills tailored to using a solar thermal concentration oven. Week 1 consisted of how the Lytefire technology works from a technical perspective with the combined education of solar science which introduced many participants to the effects of climate change and global warming. The majority of students were completely unaware of the damage caused to the Planet before we arrived and how climate change is affecting countries like Africa the most with drastic disasters such as flash floods and droughts.

A shocking fact is that approximately 8.2% of infant deaths in Uganda are primarily linked to indoor air pollution from unsuitable cooking spaces using charcoal and firewood. 4 million people, mainly Females and children die each year from household pollution from using unsustainable fuel sources with many other people here developing respiratory problems.
As the majority of the participants were under 24, most with families at such a young age and many of the women that attended the training had children, they were appalled at these statistics. This is where we introduced the benefits of the Lytefire technology, not only improving health but how it helps preserve the environment.

As a small rural area we came across challenges regarding marketing as the students and training team had a discussion on what methods were best to market their bakery during the entrepreneurship training. Collectively, the students decided offline marketing was to be their most favorable strategy as ‘word of mouth’ recommendations spread widely and they could promote their solar bakery with business cards, posters and a Sun Light Solar Bakery logo! Many students and locals in the area do not have smartphones, so they would use SMS and calls to speak with their customers if they had any promotional offers on!

As the students all live locally they knew the market and ‘competition’ in the area so explained to us what baked goodies they believe they could offer their customer and what would sell well. So during week 2 the first few days the students focused on mastering bread loaves and bread bun recipes. They explained many locals didn’t have access to freshly baked bread and only had bread that contained many preservatives in them that were transported from Alio, Lira or even Kampala.

The days following Hasheem, our baker trainer taught the students how to bake cupcakes, G-nut cookies, ginger cookies, sponge cakes, cinnamon buns and solar baked mandazi! The solar baked mandazi sold out due to members of the town council headquarters who made an order of 76 mandazi for their meeting the following day! Once they had one bite they could not resist the taste of freshly solar baked mandazi!

During week 2 and over the weekend mentors and mentees showed up to bake on Saturday at the hub as they had to prepare some more pre-ordered baked goods for solar baked mandazi!
The hub were selling baked treats like hot cakes! Sales made so far from the first 2 weeks and over the weekend were already over 224,000UGX (56EUROS)!

This meant Week 3 was all hands-on deck: Ready steady bake, bake, BAKE! During the last week, Hasheem, our baker trainer, dedicated one afternoon to teach the very excited participants the eagerly anticipated cake decorating class! This included how to frost a cake by making icing bags from baking paper and using specific nozzles to create beautiful decorations on a party cake! As many locals were head over heels in love with the solar baked mandazi, the students had to primarily focus on baking these as the local community enjoyed how fresh and readily available these goodies were!

The Smart Up hub had the Lytefire 5 combined roaster and oven installed so the trainers demonstrated to the participants the G-nut Roasting process. With the sun smiling down in Alebtong the students roasted 10kg of raw groundnuts in the solar roaster for a total of 3 hours. This saved roughly a total of 2kg of charcoal that would usually be used burnt for roasting the ground nuts in a pan.
The process included the rinsing and washing of the ground nuts, then adding 200g of salt with water. This mixture was then placed into the solar roaster and the outcome was super delicious! If you would like to see this process you can check out our video reel on our Instagram page!

For the last week of training the students were preparing for their Solar Demo Day where they would showcase their solar baked goods and present a demonstration of how the Lytefire solar oven worked for guests that were attending. We had family members of the participants attend, amongst special guests Pastor Caro and 2 journalists covering the demonstration day from a radio station in Lira. The sales made on that day were just over 100,000ugx (25 Euros) from the wonderful support of the local community, family and friends that attended the special day. It was a truly wonderful celebration to end the training as every single participant were very hard working and excited about the beginning of their journey with their new solar bakery!

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