Blog of Heikki Lindfors

Very dynamic solar bakers in Tanzania

Posted Tuesday 10 October 2017 by Heikki Lindfors.

Buy what’s available, refine it, sell it for profit. Do it over and over again and support your family and community. This seems to be the operating model of the Tujijenge group working in the Makoko neighborhood in Musoma, Tanzania. They do all kinds of value-adding food processing, depending on what is available to them. That’s exactly the entrepreneurial spirit we like at GoSol!

When GoSol’s Heikki and Lorin met the Tujijenge group for the first time in May 2017, they were making their own charcoal to roast fish, cassava, and peanuts, as well as for baking. During this meeting we realized that this is an ideal group for GoSol’s SOL5 hybrid baking oven/roaster model. As they were running diverse entrepreneurial activities already before tapping into solar energy, we were sure they’d come up with many, many uses for their SOL5 so they can save money and stop using charcoal.

Tujijenge is a group of ten women and three men. They get all kinds of fresh foods, process them and sell them for a better price.
Teach a man to fish and he'll feed himself for a lifetime, they say. At GoSol we want all of humanity to have free solar energy.

And we were not disappointed: The group adopted the technology within the first two days. The men in the group grabbed wrenches to learn how to assemble and maintain the solar concentrator. Meanwhile, the ladies of the group gathered to discuss what uses they have for it. Baking was an obvious starting point, as they were already very experienced with it. But as they are also roasting, we are eager to return to the group soon and see what uses they have come up for the roasting drum!

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Global Resource Alliance and GoSol in Tanzania

Posted Wednesday 27 September 2017 by Heikki Lindfors.

Global Resource Alliance (GRA) is a small international NGO located in Musoma, Tanzania. They work on issues of orphan care, water supply, permaculture, herbal medicine, reforestation and sustainable household energy use – which are all pressing issues in Tanzania. The GoSol team is a big fan of sustainable activities and appropriate technologies, so working together with GRA was a logical choice when GoSol was starting its operations in Tanzania.

The country is in dire need of such sustainable activities. Deforestation is a slowly but steadily occurring environmental disaster – as people have used the original forests for firewood, the price of this commodity has skyrocketed, and there is just a fraction of natural forests left. There are not enough clean water resources for the rapidly growing population. And the basic needs of thousands of orphans require special attention of caring individuals – such as from GRA’s employees.

Global Resource Alliance (GRA) personnel drilling a well. (Photo: GRA)
Global Resource Alliance (GRA)'s Training Centre produces food for 35 families. (Photo: GRA)

GRA is active in Musoma, the capital of Tanzania’s Mara region, and across from Lake Victoria at a remote village called Kinesi. Most of GRA’s personnel and volunteers work in their Musoma office. They do their agricultural projects at surrounding communities, and conduct water surveying and drilling in nearby regions. The local orphans gather at their office every Saturday, to receive food and educational materials. At Kinesi there is a permaculture training centre, where GRA employees and volunteers work together with orphans, to grow food for 35 families.

GoSol arrived to Tanzania in May 2017. Our collaboration with GRA was in full swing from the start, as GoSol was representing its technology besides GRA at Butiama’s annual Environmental Expo. The expo is the most important annual forum for environmental organizations is Tanzania.

GRA volunteer Sliafrank Shaushi introducing the SOL5 at Butiama Environmental Expo.

GoSol also worked with GRA artisans, to manufacture locally the first two SOL5 solar concentrators in Tanzania. Working with these skilled professionals was a delight and immediate success. Even tough there were language barriers, as the artisans spoke Swahili, and GoSol’s project managers English, these motivated professionals managed to fabricate the solar concentrators in record time because of our improved visual instruction material and construction guide that manages to bypass such language barriers.

Constructing solar concentrators with GRA artisans.

Global Resource Alliance and GoSol worked together in May and June 2017. During this time, we witnessed they are a professional, deeply devoted and passionate group working to make Tanzania a better place for the people, environment and children. We are very happy to continue our collaboration with GRA, to benefit the Tanzanian people and environment!


The First Solar Bakery in Tanzania

Posted Sunday 10 September 2017 by Heikki Lindfors.

Gosol arrived to Tanzania in June 2017, with the goal to replicate the success of the SOL5 solar concentrators that they had in Kenya and other countries. The very first oven was featured in Butiama Environmental Expo, where many visitors enjoyed this new technology and where it was visited by the vice president of Tanzania, Samia Suluhu.

The two first SOL5 solar concentrators in Tanzania came with a baking oven. And this solar oven has a design improvement: The user can put in a roasting drum, turning the oven into a peanut roaster.

Showcasing the SOL5 Hybrid Oven/Roaster device at the expo.

The SOL5 was first introduced to the users at the Butiama Environmental Expo. Monica and Joyce of the Alpha Women’s Group from Musoma, Tanzania, were baking all weekend and selling their solar baked goodies to visitors.

After the expo, the Alpha Women’s Group received the SOL5 solar concentrator to their compound. The group consists of ten women, who bake for themselves as well as sell to their neighbors in the suburbs of Musoma town. Musoma is the capital of the Mara region of Tanzania, and the town is located on a peninsula in the shores of Lake Victoria. We were introduced to them through our local partner Global Resource Alliance - Tanzania.

Before the SOL5, the Alpha Women’s Group used to burn charcoal to run their bakery business.

The Alpha Women's Group produces bread and cakes made from wheat and kassava flour.
Before, they burned charcoal to bake their bread.
Bread is in high demand in the area.

The Alpha Group has previously been baking for their own needs and for their neighbors. The group used to bake with charcoal 2-3 times a week. Until now, the baking hasn’t been a serious business endeavor. However, in their first weeks of solar baking, they increased their baking to five times per week. They don’t need to pay for charcoal anymore and they can buy baking ingredients instead. The elimination of fuel cost has increased their business productivity, and now they are selling more breads to more people, making the group the first real bakery business in their neighborhood.

First solar baker of the country!

Buying charcoal is part of a poverty trap, and free solar energy creates new entrepreneurship.

Preparing the freshly baked solar bread for selling.

Landing in Tanzania: Butiama Environmental Expo

Posted Monday 4 September 2017 by Heikki Lindfors.

When GoSol arrived in Tanzania in May 2017, the goal was to replicate the success our SOL5 has in Kenya among the local entrepreneurs. With sponsorship from Wärtsilä, the very first SOL5 was displayed at annual Butiama Environmental Expo, on June 2nd, in Mara region.

Butiama Expo, June 2nd 2017, 1000-2000 visitors each day.

The expo featured different companies and organizations whose activities are related to the environment and sustainability, and there were 1000-2000 daily visitors at the expo.

Intrigued visitors are checking out the SOL5 at Butiama Expo.

The expo also featured a high-level workshop related to charcoal use in the country. Charcoal use has resulted in serious forest loss around Tanzania, which in turn has resulted in high domestic fuel prices and environmental degradation. There were discussions about imposing a tax on charcoal, as well as concerns that such measures might result in higher use of firewood, because there is no other alternative to charcoal use in the country. Until GoSol arrived!

Does it work? Visitors experiencing the thermal power at the focal point of the SOL5.

With help of our local partner, Global Resource Alliance, we’ve been able to present our technology to visitors.

The SOL5 at Butiama expo was a baking oven, which was designed to also house a roasting drum. The oven was operated by the Alpha Women’s Group, a small bakery business group that was to receive the SOL5 Oven after the expo. They learned the use of the SOL5 within a day, and began to bake with it during the first day of the expo. And after the day’s baking was done, they roasted peanut and sold all these solar goodies to the visitors.

Solar baking for visitors at Bautima Expo. Freshly baked buns are coming out of the SOL5 Oven.

During the first three days of the expo there were rumors about the guest of honor, who would be arriving on Sunday, the last day of the expo. Public secret was that this guest of honor was Samia Suluhu, the vice president of Tanzania, who’s responsibility is the environmental affairs in the government. And on Sunday, this guest of honor was given an honorary welcome; there were two hours of dances and parades first, after which the vice president visited the most interesting organizations and technologies on display. Most interesting being the SOL5 Oven.

Vice-President Ms Suluhu discovering the SOL5.

Madame Suluhu and deputy minister of lands Angelina Mabula were impressed by the SOL5 solar concentrator. The GoSol team is excited to work with the Tanzanian government, to bring the solar solution to the pressing problems of deforestation and high energy prices in the country.

The Butiama Expo was the first introduction to solar thermal technology to many Tanzanians. Next Gosol will work with the government officials and other Tanzanians to bring solar thermal technology for the benefit of Tanzanian people, businesses and the environment!

The SOL5 continued to get many curious visitors all day at Butiama Expo.

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: