Burkina-Faso Posts

The Ladies of Goghin, solar bakers in Burkina Faso

Posted Monday 31 May 2021 by Lorin Symington.

We’re very happy to announce the ladies of Goghin have gone solar!

Thanks to your generous contributions on the crowdfunding, the hard work of Vincent Nikiema and his association SOS Énergie Burkina and the contribution of L’Association pour un Monde Solidaire (ASW) we were able to deliver a great training package to members of this rural women’s group.

Over the course of about 3 weeks, our team in Burkina Faso delivered and installed a Lytefire6 along with all the equipment needed for a small bakery, and we conducted two training modules, one focusing on small scale entrepreneurship skills, and the other on practical baking skills.

For the entrepreneurship training, we had said that we could handle a class size of about 15. Nearly 30 women showed up! Only a handful of them could read and write, but all of them wanted to learn more about how to handle money and improve their business skills. Of course, we could not turn them away. Fortunately, our entrepreneurship educator, Somé Alexis has extensive experience training women of all education levels, and he brought an additional helper who is fluent in Mooré, the language of the Mossi people.

While the ladies were learning how to do book keeping, budgeting and other entrepreneurship skills, we worked with some men from the village to ensure they had the know-how to install and calibrate the mirrors on the Lytefire. A number of young men came and went, but in our experience young men move around too much so even if they are trained up, they might not be around when they are needed. We worked with Mr. Sédou and André Nikiema (Vincent’s brother) to install and calibrate the mirrors of the Lytefire. This was also a great chance to see our country manager Martin Poubidjie in action, teaching others how to calibrate.

For the practical bakery portion of the training package, Mr. Jean Bosco made his appearance again and he and his son Allain spent a week with the ladies teaching them the fundamentals of baking, from good ingredient storage habits, to hygiene, proper measuring technique, how to vary the amount of yeast depending on temperature (when it’s 42degC in the afternoon, you don’t need as much yeast as in the morning!) and, very importantly, good kneading technique.

Their village is about 15 minutes off the road from Ouagadougou to Bobo Diolasso about 45 minutes from the city. There is an industrial bakery in the nearby town of Tanghin Dassouri that makes only (in my opinion) cardboard tasting baguettes, but there are so many other delicious varieties of bread and treats to make and the ladies have been very excited to learn some tastier recipes.

Based on our experiences with Remar, we have increased the surface area of the Lytefire from 5 square meters to 6 because the quality of sunlight in Burkina Faso is relatively low due to all the atmospheric dust blown off the Sahara. While you might not see a rain cloud for 9 months of the year, the skies always have a slight-to-severe white haze. For those of you who know your Direct Normal Irradiation levels, Ouagadougou and the surrounds receive about 1500w/m2 annually. For such a sunny country that isn’t very high and it’s due to the intense dustiness. Increasing the power of the Lytefire by 20% compensates for this.

As part of our package we also included a gas powered baking oven for those months of the year when there is simply too much dust (Harmattan wind season) and for the rainy season (July-August). The cost of LPG gas is very high for village life and so we’re very much looking forward to the accounting data the ladies have agreed to share with us. Martin will be in regular contact with them and if they need any refreshers or troubleshooting he will be there for them.

Here, Lorin poses with some very happy new bakers:

Congratulations to the women of Goghin Women’s group and to SOS Burkina Énergie for sustainably going solar with Lytefire!


Tasty solar bread in Burkina Faso

Posted Wednesday 19 May 2021 by Muriel Fuhrer.

Tasteful smelling and freshly baked bread. Crispy on the outside, and fluffy on the inside - It’s so amazing that the baking heat was created by solar energy!

In our project in Ouagadougou with Remar we helped the women to build their own solar bakery to bake their own bread and create a stable income! - A highlight was also to see that all women no matter what health conditions, literacy level or number of children had the opportunity to participate in the training. Like that, they had the chance to learn the needed skills to run a small business.

Check out our video about the newly opened solar bakery in Burkina Faso.


Introducing our country managers in 2021

Posted Wednesday 21 April 2021 by Auriina Korhonen.

As we continue to grow and to expand our work in new locations, and find new pathways to create impact, the development of solid teams in our field operations becomes more and more vital. We recently wrote about our ongoing work in Kenya, where our great team is introducing the Lytefire 5 oven to Kisumu through weekly solar baking demos.

Today, we would like to introduce to you our country managers from our key operational countries, and let them share some of their thoughts on the significance of our efforts.

Makenson Mérisca, Haiti

Makenson Merisca is joining us as a country manager for Haiti. He has long-term experience working with several different developmental foundations and programmes in Haiti especially in relation to child welfare and education. Makenson sees being a part of the SFCO team as a chance to work towards the preservation of our natural world, and his personal goal is to see Lytefire technology in widespread use in Haiti. He currently lives in Port-au-Prince with his wife and three children.

Makenson was recommended to us by the one and only Louino Robillard, a pillar of the community in Cité Soleil who Lorin met years ago while staying at and working alongside Haiti Communitere.

Makenson is a young family man with a variety of experience from heavy trucking to NGO support services. His family comes from a region of Haiti where there are some of the last forests in Haiti. Makenson wants to introduce Lytefire tech there because he says people often cut down their trees (sometimes even mango or avocado trees!) to sell to the bakery to burn to bake bread. There’s always a line up outside the bakery, so it seems like there’s a real chance to safeguard Haiti’s precious forests so that Maken’s kids can also enjoy them when they grow up.

Martin Pouabidjie, Burkina Faso

The project with Remar gave us the chance to start building a team here in Burkina Faso, and while we were cooking one day, Martin walked up and was already full of ideas. Full of confidence and not afraid to get his hands dirty, Martin has proven to a hard worker who is willing to learn. Our mutual goal is to deliver more and more trainings to associations and small groups who can use Burkina’s abundant sunshine to generate income while protecting the environment.

Martin is one of six children, and he has worked as a salesperson and coordinator-trainer in a family association, after which he has acquired work experience in team leadership, sales, and marketing. He has studied literature, sociology and project management, with the specific goal of being able to carry out projects of his own. Martin is a father to a four year-old daughter and in his free time he enjoys cinema and football.

For the past two weeks, Martin has been on the ground with the Women of Goghin overseeing the implementation of our entrepreneurship education and bakery training packages. As part of our follow-up with them, Martin will help them to develop and market their products so they can increase the earnings of their women’s cooperative.

Joan Arwa Ogwang, Kenya

Joan Arwa Ogwang is a Kenyan, with a (MA) from Maseno University. With more than 13 years of experience as a regional manager at Capital Airtime Limited (Kisumu), she is a three time winner of the Safaricom regional awards. She has also been a real estate manager for over 15 years, a part-time lecturer at Maseno University’s communication department, as well as a successful entrepreneur with 10 years of experience.

Joan’s motivation is to positively change lives by helping people generate money to be able to afford a decent life. Her personal view is that Solar Fire machines are remarkable since everyone who experiences them are in disbelief of the amount of heat solar light can generate, and that fuels her motivation. With our local technician, Jared Omondi, they are promoting the solar oven through local population.


A new solar bakery in Burkina Faso

Posted vendredi 27 novembre 2020 by Lorin Symington.

We’re very happy to announce the success of our collaboration with the NGO Remar in Burkina Faso. We have officially opened of a brand new, Lytefire powered bakery in Burkina Faso after some weeks of training with the ladies of Remar.

At the request of Remar, an NGO operating in 70+ countries, we worked with their local welding staff to build a Lytefire5 with baking oven, a bakery building, and conducted entrepreneurship and bakery skills training. Remar is taking care of 150 vulnerable peoples on the edge of Burkina Faso’s capital city of Ouagadougou and they are looking for every advantage possible. For one thing, buying bread from the outside costs a considerable amount of precious cash. Thanks to funding from Remar Espana & Remar Schweiz we were able to train Remar welders to build the Lytefire 5, build a new building to house the bakery, buy the equipment and train the ladies of Remar for success in their baking initiative.

This project had the added spice of starting before the WHO declared a global pandemic. In fact, just after finishing the training of the fabricators and the production of the first Lytefire5, project manager Lorin Symington was in the Philippines to follow up on our projects there and meet with the University of Eastern Visayas and the Philippines Coconut Authority to explore the possible avenues for solar thermal to contribute to adding value in the coconut value chain. Lorin left the Philippines just as PH instituted a very early and very strict lockdown. By the time he got the Burkina the world was in a panic and isolation was advised.

Flash forward a few months and Remar/GoSol projects are planned for Haiti, Niger and Mali. During the first months of lockdown Remar and GoSol managed to secure additional funding to ensure exceptional results of the project in Burkina including enough to warrant building a brick and mortar bakery, buy a mixing machine and build a team of local professionals capable of ensuring appropriate training for the women of Remar and ongoing support.

The bakery was officially launched in October and we are happy to report that they are producing +100kg of bread per week as well as 5kg of ‘Madeleine’ personal sized cakes for sale in the city. They’re saving a bundle and making an income on top. The women report being more confident after receiving training because they now have the vocabulary and skills to run a business and earn money to contribute back to Remar, which, as an organization, has done so much for so many of them.

For us, it was truly inspiring to see these ladies, many of whom have not been in school for many years, pick up their pen and paper and calculate profit and loss scenarios while their babies hang on their hips. At first, it was hard to tell which baby belonged to who, because all the babies were being passed around so much. At first, the toddlers were not in class, but once the classroom segment was done and it was time to bake, there were kids constantly underfoot. We had a class full of 15 women, some as young as 15, others 50 years of age, and they cooperated to ensure that everyone, regardless of health condition, literacy level or number of children, had the chance to participate in the training and learn the needed skills to run a small business.

With our aspiring GoSol team in place in Burkina Faso, we are continuing to provide support to this fledgeling business, the success of which gives hope for widespread adoption of direct solar thermal energy systems and an end to deforestation in the Sahel.


Building in Burkina Faso with Remar

Posted Thursday 27 February 2020 by Lorin Symington.

We launched a new project with Remar International in Burkina Faso to empower women entrepreneurs. As always we fabricated the solar units locally, in cooperation with local metalworkers. Our chief builder Lorin was in Burkina for 2 months to facilitate the first phase of this project.

I first visited West Africa in 2007 when I spent 6 months in Mali. During my research at the time, Burkina Faso jumped out at me as a place that was in desperate need of Lytefire technology. And now, finally I get to bring our solar concentrators to Burkina Faso!

Lorin and the Remar apprentices measuring and marking.

The country of people of integrity
That’s what Burkina Faso the means and it was named like that by President Thomas Sankara, in 1984, in his courageous attempt to free the country from French colonialism. It is a landlocked country of 20 million people, devoid of any petroleum wealth and with few other resources. Burkina Faso is ranked 182nd out of 189 on the Human Development Index, which is to say that it is one of the least developed countries on the planet. There’s a 9 months long dry season and an incredible amount of dust. It is “winter” now, but the temperature hits nearly 40°C every day and during my first month I didn’t see a cloud. If ever there was a country that could profit from direct access to solar energy, it’s this one.

People in the capital city Ouagadougou (pronounced wah-gah-doo-goo) are friendly and often dressed in brightly coloured traditional fabrics. There are bananas and avocados for sale on the side of the road, and strangely enough, many apples, strawberries and grapes, the origins of which are still a mystery to me. The country is an ex French colony, and one of the many ways that the colonial legacy lives on is in the daily consumption of bread.

GoSol has been contracted to build a Lytefire 5 baking oven for Remar International, a Spanish NGO that has been working in Burkina Faso for over 20 years. They’re planning a bakery training centre at their compound in the Nioko 2 neighbourhood and their intention is to empower a group of women to earn a more consistent living.

Bako, head welder at the Remar garage, learning to calibrate mirrors.

Remar, our new partner
Working with the Remar workshop crew is fun and challenging. On the one hand, Bako, their main welder who they have supported since he was a boy, is well experienced and a real stand up guy. It’s great to see the structure Remar has put in place to provide a safe learning and growth experience for these youngsters. His spirit is one of Hakuna Matata, to borrow a phrase from our Swahili sisters and brothers. He’s always smiling and eager to learn. On the other hand, he has a handful of apprentices who are… a handful. One is nicknamed the ‘minister of losing stuff’, another is the minister of breaking stuff, another is the minister of confusion… you get the idea! No build is complete without a few tools burning out and some unexpected delays, but with a little luck and perseverance we’re making it work and in the end everything went just fine.

The team, proud to see it all starting to come together.

I’ve never had a more challenging time finding the materials to build Lytefire than in Burkina. For the first three days we heard ‘impossible’ many times when it came to finding sheets of stainless steel. I now know two shops that sell them. Likewise for fiberglass or mineral wool insulation, though eventually we managed to find the one place that sells it. I estimate that it took me 12+ hours of hunting to find fiberglass mat (which we use to protect and hold in place the window on the oven). 2 or 3 mm mirrors were simply impossible to find and we were eventually forced to get those mirrors from neighbouring Ghana where, it turns out, they are cheaper than just about anywhere else I have ever bought them. I bought enough for 5 Lytefires because I have a good feeling about the future of Lytefire in Burkina Faso.

On the hunt in the Ouaga Steel Market.

The Lytefire is now installed at Remar’s training center for women so stay tuned for the next updates from this project. On a side note, Lorin met some very interesting entrepreneurs while he was in Burkina Faso and we are starting a small crowdfunder for them to equipt and train them with Lytefire. Please have a look here: https://lytefire.com/adama-and-issaka?var_mode=recalcul


 

 

 

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