Kenya Posts

Fish dehydrated with solar energy at Bao Beach, Kenya

Posted Monday 28 August 2017 by Lorin Symington.

Food dehydration is an important part of food security and solar thermal tech is the perfect energy source to power food dehydration. In partnership with World Vision Kenya, we have been introduced to the Bao Beach beach management unit, a cooperative that operates within a small fishing community of 300 people located on the shores of Lake Victoria, in the Western part of Kenya. People have come together to do business at Bao Beach. By cooperating, and being business-oriented they have more stability as they fish, dry and sell sardines (known as "omena" locally), Nile perch and tilapia.

The previous method: Woman turning the fish drying on the ground.

Fresh fish only last so long. Without refrigeration fish spoil relatively quickly and so instead, local fishers dry fish by spreading out the fish on nets on the ground. The sun and the wind eventually dry them. Sometimes they are eaten by birds, sometimes the dogs get at them, many flies are on it, the air only flows over the side facing up, so they must be turned often. It amounts to a considerable amount of work, which generally falls to the wife of the fisherman. It can take 2 days to dry the fish, especially if it is one of the two rainy seasons in this part of Kenya. If there is not enough sun, or it rains suddenly, the fish will spoil.

Lorin training the Bao Beach technicians how to prepare mirrors for mounting on the SOL5. Simple materials with careful assembling, can do amazing things.

We have teamed up with the Bao Beach community and equipped them with our Sol5 powered dehydrator. Lorin and Heikki trained 4 technicians from among the young men in the community on how to set up and maintain their solar concentrator. The SOL5 uses high heat, moderated by PV powered high airflow. The product being dehydrated is in an enclosure that prevents flies, dust, birds, dogs, etc., from spoiling the fish. We expect the SOL5 to improve the quality and hygiene of the dried fish, increasing the price on the open market, as well as reduce post harvest losses during the rainy season.

Lorin testing the SOL5 Dehydrator to determine how many kilos of fish fit per tray.

Now, we’re starting to get the first data from the communities and it is exciting to say the least. Unfortunately during the initial installation the concentrator was damaged, but it was recently repaired by our fabricators in nearby Kisumu and the initial reports are very promising. Very soon we’ll share footage of this new application of the SOL5. We’ll be evaluating the profitability of the fish drying value chain in collaboration with World Vision, as well as providing capacity building opportunities for stakeholders to adopt best practices.

Loading omena (sardines) into the SOL5 Dehydrator.

1 Year After: Expanding Solar Bakery in Kenya

Posted Thursday 29 June 2017 by Eva Wissenz.

Thanks to Wärtsilä, our founding sponsor, we were back to Kenya, collecting a lot of data after 1 year of almost daily use of the SOL5 Oven by bakers in cooperation with World Vision. But most of all, we were able to provide an additional SOL5 solar oven to these motivated solar bakers.

Watch David and Lorin explain!


Yier Ngima - Solar Peanut Butter

Posted Thursday 8 June 2017 by Urs Riggenbach.

In this video we’re back at the Yier Ngima cooperative in Kenya, to follow up on their feedback after using the Sol5 for a year.


Preserving the green beauty with the power of the sun

Posted Friday 19 May 2017 by Heikki Lindfors, Heikki Lindfors.

Misire youth group is an agricultural community in Nyamira County in southwest Kenya. The area is known for its rich agricultural production. The main crops in the area include bananas, sweet potatoes, sugarcane, beans and tea. The land is hilly and green and one can see small fields everywhere around.

We were introduced to Misire youth group by World Vision Kenya in January 2017, and they were interested in having GoSol’s Sol5 solar baking oven. The group bakes bread for four local schools in the vicinity. However, their baking business has been limited by charcoal. One bag of charcoal costs 1200-1500 Kenyan shillings (US$12-15) in the area - much higher than we have seen anywhere else in the country. This is due to the fact that cutting down trees is illegal - the local government has decided to keep the green and lush land as it is by this ban, resulting in extreme traditional energy prices but hopefully beautiful preserved landscape for their children.

The group grows maize, bananas and beans on their land. The bananas in the area are plentiful and even overabundant. Instead of selling all the bananas fresh, the group dries them into banana chips, grinds them into flour, and bakes bread using 20% banana flour, 80% wheat flour. The bread is very sweet and tasty, with exotic banana flavor. Environmental consciousness and unique bakery product; the perfect setting for a Sol5 solar bakery.

Thanks to our sponsors Wärtsilä, we delivered a Sol5 solar bakery to the Misire youth group on a sunny April morning. The group (as well as extended family and neighbours) immediately gathered around the Sol5, helping us to assemble it. Eagerness and excitement was radiating from the faces of the villagers when we all together, erecting the frame and putting up the mirrors on the Sol5.

The Sol5 was assembled in few hours, and the next day we gathered with the community to bake with the Sol5. The group leader Afros Ochieng was delighted by the efficiency of the Sol5, as it was faster to bake the buns and breads than their previous charcoal oven. And as the fuel cost is zero as opposed of their previous huge charcoal cost, they can now bake more. Afros Ochieng explained with enthusiasm that the group previously baked only two times per week, but now he thinks that they can bake every day and expand their bakery business.

GoSol’s solar innovations creates new sustainable businesses, and that means preserving the beautiful scenery of Nyamira County for locals, visitors and future generations.

Watch the video showing this great group !


You make the world a better place by working...

Posted Friday 28 April 2017 by Heikki Lindfors.

You make the world a better place by working together, and sometimes small local partners can provide the best value for the local people. Like a solar bakery in a community center.

Lokichoggio is a Kenyan town in in northwest Kenya, near the border with South Sudan. The town is very remote, located in the desert region of Turkana. Between 1989-2005 Lokichoggio was a forward base of UN Operation Lifeline Sudan. In those busy times many international NGOs were present in Lokichoggio, and air transports were flying to South Sudan several times a day from the local airport. After the operation ended, the NGOs left, leaving the town quiet and desolate and the locals jobless. All that remains from those busy days are abandoned compounds and a few hotels.

Kea and Birgitta Arnlund work for a Swedish NGO Barnmissionen. Barnmissionen has provided an elementary school for local Turkana children, providing basic education for over 500 students.

They also work together with the ANA Women’s group, which runs a local bakery. ANA Women’s group is a local NGO, with six members. They bake bread, scones and queen cakes every morning and deliver them to local schools and shops. The school children enjoy their fresh bread for lunch every day, and the local shops sell it to townspeople.

Kea and Birgitta and the ANA Women’s group have a dream: to build a community center and a library, where people can come to read, use computers, and study to provide these educational and beneficial free-time activities for the local Turkana people at no cost. They will also now have a solar bakery at the community center so people can enjoy tea and some solar-baked treats in the cafeteria.

To make lives better locally, you only need a handful of visionary people working together, such as the women of ANA Women’s group, and also Birgitta and Kea.

Check the vblog of this group:


Presenting Results and a New Application in Kisumu

Posted Saturday 15 April 2017 by Eva Wissenz, Lorin Symington.

Last Friday, on April 7th, at the World Vision Lake Region compound in Kisumu we presented 3 SOL5’s to around 65 representatives from a wide variety of NGOs and the Kisumu County government. It was the occasion for our team to present the spirit of our work, its impact since a year and the synergy with our sponsor and partners.

A wide variety of people from different sectors attended the presentation.

Attendees were primarily involved in agriculture, enterprise development, environmental stewardship and poverty alleviation, all very interested in hearing the results of our first pilots installed about a year ago in the area, and curious about the new food dehydrator we’re presenting.

Attendees inspecting the SOL5's and their different applications.

Chief Officer Lorna Omuodo (below) from the Kisumu County Green Energy and Climate Change Authority expressed her vision of making Kisumu the premiere sustainability county in Kenya.

Chief Officer Lorna Omuodo: "Let's make Kisumu the premiere sustainability county of Kenya"

The day was beautiful, though the morning was too cloudy to bake all the goodies Lorin and Heikki (below) had planned, there was enough sun to show the focal point and for people to witness the power of our solar concentrators.

Lorin Symington and Heikki Lindfors of GoSol.org in front of the SOL5 solar concentrators.

We were happy to welcome Mr. George Oywer, from Wärtsilä, who presented his company and their sponsorship of GoSol. Also presenting were Maija Seppala, Chris Asego and Joseph Tinkoi, representing World Vision Finland’s WEconomy Start Program and World Vision Kenya’s livelihoods and resilience program.

To top it off we welcomed back David Chepkwony (below), our first solar (and happy) baker who you met last year. He shared his daily experiences and use of SOL5 oven, making a strong appeal to the county government to GoSol.

Solar Baker David Chepkwony presenting on his experience with GoSol.
David Chepkwony spreading his enthusiasm for solar baking.

Solar for All – From Vision to Reality

Posted Wednesday 5 April 2017 by Urs Riggenbach.

Today we are looking back at a year of intense R&D, prototyping, piloting and partnership building in Kenya, Finland and the US, taking us from our vision to an actual proof-of-concept.

At GoSol.org we have been working hard to address the need of millions of entrepreneurs in emerging markets who need cost-efficient and sustainable clean energy to run their businesses. We are developing our own solar concentration technology through applications that provide high-quality heat while aiming at a payback period of less than 1 year. Such a market-based solution would allow a massive number of entrepreneurs to take advantage of solar, and provide the fuel for broader societal transformations as we have outlined in the GoSol Manifesto.

As we have reported earlier, since February part of our team is back in Kenya, following up on the pilot project that we started in cooperation with Weconomy and World Vision before Summer. Last May we installed two SOL5 solar concentrators at a bakery and a peanut-roastery. Even though our local partners have been reporting on the pilots regularly, it was amazing to re-meet the entrepreneurs after leaving the machines with them for more than 9 months, and seeing that they are still used every day and are providing actual value to these entrepreneurs.

 

Starting up in Kenya with Weconomy

Before our Kenya pilots we faced a big challenge: How do we as a Finnish company get in touch with low-income entrepreneurs to pilot our solar tech in emerging markets? How do we make sure to get the right entrepreneurs, how do we monitor the situation from a distance, how would we provide additional support if needed? Enter Weconomy, an initiative by World Vision Finland who operates in Kenya (among other countries). As one of the world’s largest NGOs, World Vision recognizes that they can play a crucial role by facilitating piloting activities for impact-oriented companies like ours, and they are offering this through their Weconomy program.

Weconomy contributed significantly to the success of our Kenya pilots and their support can be key for any impact-oriented company. Because World Vision Kenya has been supporting the creation of lending groups and business cooperatives in Kenya for a long time, they are well connected to local entrepreneurs and know the capacitation process it takes to set up new business activities. In the planning phase of the project it was Weconomy who identified the suitable entrepreneurs and project sites. They identified the workshop to construct the machines, arranged the transport and capacity building sessions, and connected us with other stakeholders in the country once the the machines were installed.

 

Proofing Solar Entrepreneurship

When we left the country after a few weeks, a new seed was planted. Now started the monitoring phase where Weconomy would actively facilitate local World Vision Kenya staff to collect user data to help us measure our impact. So without having our own staff on-site and without relying entirely on the entrepreneurs for self-monitoring we were able to gather data to proof our impact.

The data we gathered speaks volumes, and we’ve already shared some in a blog post earlier, but even better is to hear it directly from our entrepreneurs themselves. This year we’re back in Kenya and we have interviewed one of our end-users on his experience with GoSol as a baker, and this is what David had to say:

 

New Energy for 2017 – Kenya and Tanzania!

Few days ago we officially announced our founding sponsor: Wärtsilä. Through this sponsorship, Wärtsilä has committed to support African societies and businesses and is backing our piloting projects in Kenya and soon Tanzania and the scale-up of our solution through pilots and education.

With their support, we are boosting our piloting in rural areas, but for the first time we are also entering a refugee camp where our technology could play a key role in alleviating energy poverty in short future (see video). This year we will also be entering Tanzania for the first time with a local partner, continuing to develop and adapt our technology to the needs of real-world entrepreneurs.

As we move forward, we wanted to take this moment and reflect on the last months and what we have accomplished. With the genuine feedback from our entrepreneurs in Kenya and the data gathered in cooperation with World Vision and Weconomy, we are now at a point where we can say that through GoSol.org, Solar Fire Concentration is supporting real-world solar entrepreneurs. As we move forward we want to thank all the entrepreneurs, supporters, sponsors and partners that have allowed us to get this far.

 

Stay tuned for more!

 

More information:
- Weconomy
- Wärtsilä

 


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