GoSol Posts

Solar kitchen launch with Don Bosco in Kakuma, Kenya

Posted Wednesday 9 November 2022 by Samuel Rodrigues.

This September Solar Fire started another project with Don Bosco, this time in Kakuma.

Kakuma is a small town in the Turkana region, north west of Kenya set in a beautiful yet austere landscape. The region is unfortunately known these days for the climatic stress it is under. It’s the stage for simultaneously aggressive droughts and destructive flash floods that disrupt both the ecosystem and human socio-economic activities. The people of Turkana know all too well the impacts of climate change.

The town itself has currently around 60 000 inhabitants but the total population is much higher if the Kakuma Refugee Camp is taken into account. Established in 1992 this camp is currently the largest in the world hosting about 200 000 refugees and asylum seekers who escaped conflicts in Sudan (58% of the population), Somalia (16%), Democratic Republic of Congo (8%), Burundi (7%), Ethiopia (5%) and other surrounding countries.

The camp is run by UNHCR Kenya and receives support in key social needs like health, education, housing, child protection etc, from different civil society and non governmental institutions.
Don Bosco provides the camp population with several education centers where about 800 students per year are given vocational training in crafts like masonry, electricity, metal working, tailoring, etc.

There are many challenges to these institutions as well as to the camp and local populations. One of them, common in these contexts, is energy supply. The electrical grid is almost non-existent and, mostly because of its remoteness, access to gas or other fuels is difficult and expensive. So most of the cooking and food transformation is done using firewood. In such an arid context in which deforestation promotes an alarming desertification, it is obvious to everyone that this solution is not sustainable and that it is bound to get more and more expensive.

Pile of firewood at Don Bosco used to cook for around 800 students a day.

So the stage is set for this Don Bosco - Solar Fire collaboration. Alternatives like concentrated solar heat (in which Solar Fire specializes) can therefore have an important and positive impact in the preservation of the environment and in the improvement of living conditions for everyone.

There are two main goals for this project:
1- Setting up a solar bakery unit that can serve as training grounds, as employment opportunity for some students and as a source of income to Don Bosco Kakuma.
2 - Installing several solar stove tops to sustainably and economically cook (for the moment a significant part of) the daily meals served to the students.

This September Solar Fire organized a first field mission to Kakuma to assess the local needs and capabilities.

We selected and prepared a site - A terrace on the side of a hill at Don Bosco’s compound was created and prepared to receive five Lytefire machines.

We prepared a working space - An empty room near to the site was turned into a temporary bakery, as we wait for a permanent Solar Kitchen and Bakery to be created.

We installed a first solar oven - we organized an introductory training session with the group of staff and students that will be running the bakery and installed and started production with a first Lytefire solar oven.

The mission was a success! The bakery team has started a steady production (more news on them soon) and Solar Fire is producing the five more Lytefire 5 that we will install soon.

We’ll be back in Kakuma in no time!


We did it!

Posted Thursday 3 November 2022 by Eva Wissenz.

A big big thank you to all those who have supported this campaign in one way or another.

This raised budget will allow to build the 2 Lytefire solar ovens in Kenya and refresh one existing one, to give one to Joan who lives nearby, to send one to Hashimu who is in Tanzania and another one to Allen in Uganda, in addition to some utensils and ingredients.

It’s a huge step for us because until now, in Africa, we we’ve only worked with NGOs and not directly with the entrepreneurs creating their slow tech companies and local bakeries, and it’s really great to finally be able to do this!

Joan, Hashimu, Allen, we know them well, we work with them for training and they understand 200% the Solar Fire vision with decentralized energy and which is so successfully illustrated in France with Neoloco. So, there you go, with this support, they will do the same, make themselves visible, inspire people.

 

And meanwhile, these Lytefire ovens are spreading in different sizes and for different needs in different contexts...

- in France with entrepreneurs who have a more industrial version made in France to make bread or snacks,

- with associations that go to schools or festivals to talk about solar bakery (cookies and pizza too),

- with trainers in the self-construction of the small model,

- with self-constructions of the oven that we guide remotely for small and medium-sized associations in the South,

- with more and more local licensees manufacturers who will be able to market on their side,

- with schools in Africa whose canteens are being equipped,

- and with NGOs too of course.

And all these people, at the end of this month, will be able to discuss together on a forum that we have been dreaming about for a long time.

Like everything, it has been hard work, years and years of persistence, miles of life lessons, but it’s such a great journey!!


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.

Congratulations to this super motivated team!


Campaign launch! Support Solar Bakery Pioneers in East Africa

Posted Friday 17 June 2022 by Eva Wissenz.

Help Joan, Hashimu and Allen to inspire their local communities by harnessing the power of the sun and creating sustainable bakeries!

Feeding their community without polluting or deforesting is what Joan, Hashimu and Allen choose to do in order to fight the intensity and acceleration of climate change and global warming caused by human activities.

With your help, we want to support each solarpreneur to acquire a Lytefire solar oven, the material and ingredients needed to start in their town in September-October 2022.

Joan is a female entrepreneur in Kenya. Hashimu is a young cook in Tanzania. Allen is a pensioner baker but ooops, we shouldn’t say pensioner because he is more active than you and me!

What do they all have in common? They all live in East Africa, they face heavy daily challenges connected to the reality of global warming, they want to make a change and they LOVE the Lytefire solar oven.

Thank you for supporting them as much as you can on the campaign page and by sharing on social media!


New sponsors: Siemenpuu Foundation and ASE

Posted Wednesday 1 June 2022 by Eva Wissenz.

Like any other company, we had to adapt to covid and to the complexity of our world. We don’t want to travel too much for long projects anymore, we need to take into account the rise of pricing for shipping and material, and we still need to address the huge amount of request we receive from all over the world! More and more people are ready to use Lytefire, and many are ready to build by themselves with our help. That is why we have created the Pioneer package a few months ago which is combining technical material and at-distance guidance in English, French, Spanish or Portuguese from one of our Project Managers. In that context, we have been happy and honored to be supported by N’Gouro Sanogo, from Association Sahel Espoir, and Hanna Matinpuro, from Siemenpuu Foundation. Together they have made the translation of all our material in French finally possible! Thanks to them, our cooperation with French speaking countries will be boosted!!

Contact us for more info about the Pioneer Package!


Pain solaire pour les femmes de Lougsi au Burkina en 2022

Posted Wednesday 18 May 2022 by Martin Pouabidjie.


Ces jours derniers nous sommes allés installer un four solaire Lytefire 6 dans la communauté de Lougsi située à environ 30km de Ouagadougou.
Nous avons été très bien accueillis par la communauté des femmes de ce groupe et par les villageois.


Ce projet est soutenu par la fondation Primesteps Janssen et l’association SOS Energie et, pour ces femmes, la Lytefire va les aider à être indépendantes financièrement, elles pourront désormais contribuer dans la scolarisation de leurs enfants, contribuer à leurs soins et aux dépenses familiale.


Je me suis occupé de la partie installation et les bases de l’entreprenariat, avec l’aide de Tagnabou, et Philippe le boulanger de The Taste a géré la formation aavec le pain. Tous ensemble on a cuit plusieurs types de pains (sucré, au lait, au sésame, brioche, pain de mine, cake, biscuits, pastel, pain salé,...).


Les femmes ont hâte d’aller vendre leurs pains dans les marchés maintenant. Elles ont déjà mûri leur stratégie afin de conquérir les différents marchés. Avec Solar Fire l’indépendance financière des femmes est assurée !



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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