Lytefire Posts

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!!


Three new Solarpreneurs in France!

Posted Monday 29 August 2022 by Eva Wissenz.

Thanks to the patient work of Arnaud, Elise, Benoist, Maxence and Loïc, three new French entrepreneurs decided to start using the Lytefire Deluxe manufactured in France to power their activity. They have been inspired by NeoLoco, Arnaud’s solar bakery, and by Lydiane and Manu, who have been the first to jump in and become "solarpreneurs" with Du Soleil et des Graines. Together in East France, Lydiane and Manu have now more than 50 retailers welcoming their solar roasted creations (see here).

 
L’Atelier Bélénos was created in Brittany, France, by Didier Ménard. "Bélénos" stands for the Gallic god of sun and health. The owner has a background of generalist engineer and is a former project manager in the cosmetics industry. Didier started the production around March 2022 and the marketing from mid-May. He solar makes cereal bars and roasted seeds for salads. He already has a dozen retailers.

Michel Mouillé is an environmental education trainer. He discovered the Lytefire thanks to NeoLoco and, as he was already offering courses and training focused on alternative cooking solutions with Idée d’en Faire, he was immediately interested. After several visits to the solar bakery, he decided to get his Lytefire Deluxe. He finds it "easy to use and quick to handle". He will soon start roasting his seeds and offer a local coffee. raise people’s awareness of the challenges of solar cooking. Below are some cool pictures of the pizza workshop he hosted for families in precarious situations and during the Low tech festival, l’Ouvre Boîtes (Can Opener).

Based in Normandy, in the Pays de Bray, Céline Puech launched Solé B’Rayon this summer. Céline has matured her project for a long time. With her Lytefire, she plans to create her own cereal bars as well as roasted seed mixes to replace crisps and peanuts for appetizers. She also created a nice ebook with healthy solar roasted seeds based recipes.

More inspiration? Discover other solarpreneurs right here!


Two Strong Women Joining

Posted Friday 22 July 2022 by Eva Wissenz.





With the title of this post, I refer to Marie NDiaye’s book, Three Strong Women (2009), which is telling the story of three heroines between France and Senegal. It is proven: powerful stories and visions can change the world. Let’s only remember the Civil Rights movement in the US or the raise of women empowerment happening progressively since a few decades (2 generations ago, women couldn’t vote, remember?). For sure, it’s not enough. For sure, it’s not fast enough and we’re not enough people but there are, actually many, so many examples of real change in the past. This can give us courage in hard times.

Our followers know that with the Lytefire, the team is on a journey to mitigate deforestation and global warming consequences, as well as empower people with a simple, efficient and elegant solar solution. Lytefire requires no infrastructure, no renovation and no high tech to be implemented. And it relieves the burden of energy from many people’s shoulders around the world, especially women and especially in Africa.

Did you know that many women in African villages still have to go to chop wood and it takes them hours every day? On her way, the woman might meet with predators (humans or animals), break her back, then spend hours by the fireplace breathing dark particles to simply roast a few kg of peanuts to be sold on the local market. Provide these women with a Lytefire oven and all this is gone. And the deforestation slows down around the village.

Did you know that this year, our field team trained more than 200 young people in Uganda to become solar bakers and created themselves an income based on a fossil fuel free activity? Doesn’t this give a bit of hope?

Did you know that some people in France are ready for a change using that same tech to bake and roast delicious snacks? They save on energy and they experience a different relationship to work - following the sun, adapting to elements, experiencing the solidity of a locally produced solar tech very adapted to our times.

And on top of spreading Lytefire with pedagogical trainings, the team works on changing the storytelling and building bridges. That’s what’s needed to make this world a better place.

On this path, we are now joined by 2 strong women, and we’re so happy to welcome them.

Susanne Müller is an impact investor from Germany, in charge of MII GmbH. She is joining our board as a Director. After several years in public service (HZI, Fraunhofer ITEM), Susanne changed to the private sector. She has experience in the metal, wood and plastics processing industry in the areas of HR, occupational safety and most recently QM.

"Recently I became a happy impact investor. I’ve seen a lot and want to see a lot more. I believe in mutual success through cooperation!

When I saw the Lytefire for the first time in the showroom video, it was immediately clear to me that this is a simple, technical solution that could be used anywhere in the world.
This product holds the solution to a group of global issues that we need to tackle now! During my first conversations with the founders of SFCO, I was immediately carried away by the strength of their vision and their devotion.

During my visit to Kenya and Uganda in April this year, I was able to get to know most of the team. I got detailed insights into the production of the Lytefire stoves directly on site in Kenya, into the project work and into the training courses in Uganda, which impressed me very much. I was able to see by myself what entrepreneurial perspectives a Lytefire Bakery brings for the users. I have been able to taste their cookies and cakes. I could really feel the empowerment of the trainees, who are mostly women. Furthermore, I was deeply inspired by the team’s loving passion and enthusiasm for working towards the fulfillment of the mission.

It quickly became clear to me that I would be happy to support this company with all my skills beyond my role as an impact investor. With Solar Fire board, I’m willing to share my expertise in quality management based on my many years of experience in the various sectors of the manufacturing industry. I am delighted and honored to be part of the working board myself now, to support the mission with my strength and to drive the vision forward."

Elise Hauters is co-managing CPM Industries with her brother Benoist Panchout. The company was created in Normandy by their father in 1990. CPM Industries expertise, is mostly in the aeronautics sector. It is thanks to their high motivation that Lytefire Deluxe has been finalized last year and starts to be commercialized in France. Elise’s interest and commitment for impact is growing more and more at all level and she is initiating new projects to work on the transformation of her industry sector.
"It is my pleasure and also honor to accept this volunteer role of board advisor on topics on which I can shed some light. I find SFCO’s mission very meaningful for several reasons and first of all the Lytefire implemented in Africa (and I hope one day among other regions in need for it) is a tool that makes possible to solve major food problems related to global warming. But what moves me the most I think is the ability that this tech is providing to women to emancipate themselves, to empower themselves, to take the lead.

As a woman and a business leader, I experience how complex and heavy leading is, even in a Western and modern society. In addition, I have the absolute conviction that the industry must be able to put its capacity and skills at the service of social and environmental justice. We must be creative in the way we carry out our projects, in general.

My institutional missions on this topic allow me to confront on one hand the economic issues , which guide the actions of the major players in my territory in France, with the issues that I personally consider to be a priority. And if this can help Lytefire team, in one way or another, I am happy to dedicate time to share my expertise and past learning’s."

Thanks for joining us!

(icon picture - credit : jplenio / Pixabay - Licence : CC0)


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!


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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In Embu, Kenya, Don Bosco’s Tech School Solar Bakery is up and running

Posted Thursday 7 April 2022 by Nigel Jonathan, Samuel Rodrigues.

The Don Bosco Technical Institutes boasts a number of different workshops. Walking around the school you can see students working on metal objects, wood furniture, masonry structures, electrical installations and many more activities. Now there is a new work post… a solar bakery!

During the first two months of the year, a Solar Fire team was dispatched to Embu with three Lytefire 5s to install a bakery and conduct 3 training sessions.

The bakery…
…is situated just next to the existing canteen kitchen. It consists of an array of three Lytefire solar ovens, placed in a terrace free of shadows where they can collect the maximum amount of solar power throughout the day. As an added perk, this area has a beautiful view!

The solar machines are mounted on concrete rings that allow them to move smoothly and leveled when tracking the sun and to resist all erosion that could come from running water.
A few steps away from the solar ovens is the indoor space for production and storage of the baked goods . The school had an available room that is spacious and perfectly suited for this. The shelving, drying racks, working table and partition walls were all made by the students in the different workshops with excellent results.

Just after the project implementation weekly production is about 160 loafs of bread and some 450 buns. The bakery team is still learning and evolving so they are only working for internal consumption but once they become more experienced the objective is to start producing for surrounding partner institutions, significantly increasing the production and diversifying the range of products. This will create a new source of revenue for the school.

The training sessions…
…were very enriching moments. Three very heterogeneous groups were introduced to different subjects related to these solar bakeries. Four main areas of knowledge were approached:
Solar science - Understanding the basics of energy consumption and its impacts on climate and the environment
Lyte fire technology - an understanding of how concentrated solar energy works and learning to assemble, operate and maintain the Lytefire concentrators

Solar baking - The basics of baking using the sun and a lot of practical training on a wide variety of baked goods

Solar entrepreneurship - Understanding the basics of a solar bakery business model and the complexities of starting and running such a business.
There were also two events opened to the public so that the trainees could have a feel of the complexities of managing a bakery in a busy day!

The training groups were very heterogeneous and constituted by some students of the technical school, staff, relatives of the staff, members of the surrounding community and students from Embu University which allowed for some enriching exchanges.

From the 34 trainees only a few (mostly staff) will be working permanently in the bakery but these weeks of training also allowed to plant the seeds of a small network around the solar bakery that can evolve into different activities. The school is presently looking into two scenarios:
Organizing more baking training sessions so that these trainees can further develop their skills;
Giving them open access to the ovens so that they can keep developing their own baking activities.

Plenty of challenges and possibilities!
All the best for the Don Bosco Solar Bakery team! We’ll be revisiting them soon!


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