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Solar Youth Entrepreneurship

Empower young entrepreneurs with solar technology to enable value-adding activities.

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EXPLAIN YOUR IDEA

This project seeks to empower youth in agriculture to run value-adding processes in order to increase their income and make the agricultural lifestyle more profitable with our innovative GoSol solar technology. By entering a co-creation process with young entrepreneurs, we aim to adapt, produce and spread the technology for value-adding activities. The co-creation process is about developing the most profitable use cases that are adapted to local contexts. Youth will be trained in local fabrication, installation and maintenance of the technology, and then supported to integrate the solar technology into their value-adding activities. Our innovative solar concentrators provide the high temperatures and power outputs needed to run commercial-grade activities (PV isn't competitive here). Operating temperatures up to 350°C allow energy-intensive activities such as baking bread; roasting peanuts, cocoa and coffee; drying fish, vegetables and fruit; pasteurizing milk and fruit juices, etc. Most importantly, the solar concentrators provide low-cost access to solar energy. They allow entrepreneurs to stop using polluting, unhealthy and costly charcoal and firewood fuels (in rural areas in Kenya this represents 70% of energy consumption) and create independence from frequent power cuts while saving money. This project addresses the gap between over production and post-harvest losses and high unemployment rates that drive youths out of their homes into cities.

WHO BENEFITS?

Our aim is to build up the local capacity and support system through training of all stakeholders in the supply chain. The primary beneficiaries are the youth trained and equipped. Co-creation ensures that the technology yields them direct energy savings to improve existing processes (such as replacing charcoal coffee roaster with solar) or new activities (such as vegetable drying, pasteurizing, etc). Other beneficiaries are youth entrepreneurs in fabrication, maintenance and installation.

TELL US MORE ABOUT YOU

At Solar Fire our mission is to eradicate energy poverty and minimize the damage of climate change by breaking down the barriers to solar energy access. We are an international team of designers, builders, engineers and changemakers.

WHERE WILL YOUR IDEA BE IMPLEMENTED?

  • Kenya
  • Tanzania

EXPERIENCE IN IMPLEMENTATION COUNTRY(IES)

  • Yes, for more than one year.

EXPERTISE IN SECTOR

  • I’ve worked in a sector related to my idea for over a year

WHy solar concentration

Over the past years, we have been developing and adapting our technology to the needs of local entrepreneurs throughout the world, in order to create an energy solution that can increase income for entrepreneurs while simultaneously reducing deforestation and CO2 emissions.

During our recent pilots in Kenya we realized that we are close to reaching this solution but additional co-creation is needed to go the last mile and adapt the technology to the local needs in our focus countries Kenya and Tanzania.

Listed below are the key metrics from our pilots showing how much money the entrepreneurs save each month using our SOL5 model. In addition to the money, the businesses reported that they now produce more, at higher quality and with healthier working conditions.


Key Data

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Value added for entrepreneurs

More productive: The bakery was suffering from frequent power cuts. Sometimes it was impossible to bake without electricity, and sometimes an oven would stop working midway and the bread batch was lost. Now, with the SOL5 Oven, they do not depend on the unstable electricity grid anymore and are producing more.

Better quality: The roastery reported that with the SOL5 the peanuts do not get the smoky taste that they used to get with their previous charcoal roasters. Now, without the smoky taste they have a higher quality produce.

Better working conditions: When using charcoal and firewood as fuel, smoke is a big factor affecting worker’s heath. The ladies at the roasting business are pleased that there is no unhealthy smoke emission with the SOL5.


The Global Context

2.7 billion people rely on biomass daily for basic heat needs and 2 billion small entrepreneurs rely on charcoal, LPG or unstable electric grids to run their businesses.

Processing foodstuffs takes large quantities of energy, leading to severe deforestation, pollution and health damage. Energy from solar concentration can provide high temperatures required for food processing, but has so far been too expensive and too complicated to maintain in rural Africa.

Our device, the SOL5 solar concentrator is designed to be low-cost and easy to maintain, enabling cheaper access to energy for agricultural processing without causing deforestation.


The Kenyan Context

In Kenya 70% of energy needs are covered by burning biomass fuels such as firewood, charcoal and agricultural wastes. The electricity grid is not stable, making it difficult for entrepreneurs to rely on it. Thus energy is an inhibiting factor to entrepreneurial activity. With our technology we have the potential to radically reduce the energy cost. 

Agriculture remains Kenya's most important sector, accounting for 50% of exports and employing 75% of working Kenyans. It is expected that 20%-30% of produce is lost post-harvest. Much of this loss could be avoided by proper processing of produce to preserve it. In addition to preservation, this would also allow the farmers to decide themselves when to market their produce, instead of selling it when the market is already satisfied (market for mangoes and tomatoes for example). The GoSol.org technology integrates key applications for food processing such as dehydrating, roasting and pasteurizing that allows agricultural entrepreneurs to add value to their produce.

Youth unemployment in Kenya is the highest in East Africa and expected at 17%. While rural youth can find work in subsistence farming, a lot are driven off to the cities in search of higher incomes and better lives, only aggregating the unemployment crisis. By empowering rural youth to become solar entrepreneurs it is possible to increase their income and make the rural lifestyle more profitable and future-proof.


Feedback and collaboration welcome!

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