Blog of Eva Wissenz

GoSol’s full vision starting in Uganda
with Plan International

Posted Tuesday 4 September 2018 by Eva Wissenz, Lorin Symington.

Since the very beginning, the way we see it at GoSol is that we must deliver an efficient and powerful solar concentrator, and a training to users, and… more. Over the past years, we have refined the SOL5 to the point where local entrepreneurs can actually use it daily to save money, increase their incomes, and develop their businesses. And this is happening when it’s sunny, and even on cloudy days depending on the cloud-cover. When it’s not possible to use solar heat in the rainy season, then users can go back to their old system for a couple of weeks. But the impact of polluting industries and climate change’s horrible side effects being what they are (deforestation, drought, people migrating away from the countryside in search for a better life…), something more than a device and training was needed to accelerate the adoption of SOL5: education.

So I’m here in Kisumu, Kenya since about 2 weeks to start a new cooperation with Plan International Finland and Plan Uganda’s SmartUp Factory project. With years of experience building in about 10 different developing countries, after monitoring about 5 baker groups in Kenya and Tanzania over the last two years, with support from Autodesk Foundation to create a construction manual, with a CTO that is also a baker, all our team has build a great educational training course that I’m so happy to share.

It’s good to be back in Kisumu, the team is now autonomous when it comes to producing these solar concentrators and baking equipment. Truly it’s an exciting development and it’s something we’ve been working towards for a long time. So far I’ve been on quality control, checking in with them at their workshop, ordering materials and documenting the progress.

Completion of welding of a SOL5 Oven.

I’ve also been reconnecting with our partners, visiting our newest pilot project and preparing for the upcoming educational and business incubation program with Plan International. I’ll be spending a few weeks at Plan’s SmartUp Factories in two hubs in Uganda. At each location I’ll be working with about 12 young people who are energetic and motivated to have an impact in their communities through innovation and entrepreneurship. Part of the idea with the SmartUp Factories is that Plan recognizes that people from poor communities are uniquely positioned to identify challenges facing their communities and, properly empowered, are the best people to address those challenges.

SmartUp Factory participants. © Plan International.

Given the success of our pilot projects in Kenya and Tanzania, 5 of which are bakeries, we’re going to be teaching a well rounded course combining hands-on training and theoretical knowledge where the students will learn to install, use and maintain our SOL5 concentrators, as well as learn about the science of energy, the impact of our solar thermal tech on environmental and health issues, as well as the baking and business skills needed to run a bakery, or another business of their choice.

A Kenyan solar baker preparing a SOL5 for baking.

In the past we’ve worked with already established bakers, but this time we’ll be training from the ground up. You might remember that I got the chance to bake all sorts of treats in South Africa a few years ago, and I remember the super enthusiastic kids from Greenside Primary School!

In Johannesburg, 300 kids from Greenside Primary School loved the solar baked treats!

I remember also all the creativity of students! Like for example Rorisa, a young entrepreneur. Between that trip and these first feedbacks and today, we are thrilled to see that our vision is becoming true!

On top of this, our CTO Arnaud, has been baking traditional French bread for a couple of years now, developing a deep understanding of the art of baking and the science behind it. He has been coaching me, I’ve baked with our pilot projects, and I’ve started a sourdough culture from scratch that we hope will be pleasing to the people in Uganda because real sourdough bread stays fresh much longer than bread leavened with chemical starters, and so is especially appropriate for a solar powered business.

Preparing sourdough.

We have our ideas about business, but we’re really committed to supporting the students of Plan’s SmartUp Factories to create businesses according to their own ideas of what their communities need. This upcoming educational course is just the first step on a beautiful journey of co-creation.

In the coming weeks I’ll be sharing stories and examples of success stories from the SmartUp Factories as well as footage and ideas of motivated students who are going to help establish the Direct Solar Economy in Uganda!

 

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Video: A Solar Bakery Run by Women in Tanzania

Posted Monday 23 July 2018 by Eva Wissenz.

We are thrilled to share this film showing how these Tanzanian Entrepreneur Women are using our SOL5 technology to run their bakery. Listen to their testimony after a year of solar baking in their village!

This project was possible in cooperation with Global Resource Alliance and with the support of Wärtsilä and Autodesk Foundation.

Check out our Impact and CSR section for cooperation with NGOs, sponsors and corporate philantropy.


Farmers Days in Kenya

Posted Monday 25 June 2018 by Eva Wissenz.

On June 19th, World Vision Kenya presented the SOL5 oven at Misire Afmaga group in presence of 350 people, including many students.

This event was part of the Farmers field days, in Nyamusi. And the theme was: Promoting Innovation and Technology in Agriculture and Trade. Several technologies useful to mitigate climate change were presented to the public.

Misire is one of the most active groups of entrepreneurs. They are using their SOL5 oven daily.

Everybody was super happy and excited about the machine and could check how tasty the solar bread is.

This project has started last year with support of Wärtsilä and Autodesk Foundation.


Greening the Blue in Kenya

Posted Friday 8 June 2018 by Eva Wissenz.

World Environment Day was celebrated on June 5th in Kisumu thanks to our cooperation with World Vision. About 500 persons attended the event.

A SOL5 oven was brought from Koptige bakery to the event and all the entrepreneurs groups participated all day, sharing their experience and answering questions.

Tasty peanut butter produced by Yier Ngima with SOL5 roaster was displayed. It’s important to remind that using solar heat removes the smoky charcoal taste and reduce to 0 breathing black particles.


GoSol Showcasing at Near Future Summit, California

Posted Tuesday 1 May 2018 by Eva Wissenz.

We are very happy to announce our participation in this year’s Near Future Summit.

Thanks to Autodeks’s support, we’ll be showcasing our SOL5 unit among impact oriented inventors, entrepreneurs, media and investors.

For us it’s a great opportunity to share our solution and connect with others. Over the course of 3 packed days of keynotes, co-creation events and discussions, we’re looking forward to meet new partners, get inspired and make new connections.

© Near Future Summit

First step was to check if the SOL5 oven built at Pier 9 is still in shape and as you can see, it is!!

The solar demo is happening at Near Future Summit in San Diego on May 10th, from 12 to 2PM, with delicious solar snacks prepared by a chef.

The project, represented by Will Cleaver (left) and Urs Riggenbach (right), is so happy to continue the great work in the Valley!! Last year, Urs and Will spent 4 months at Pier 9 residency and will continue the development. They are the best when it comes to share the GoSol spirit and spread awareness about the solution we are offering to solve energy access and improve lives of entrepreneurs, farmers and refugees.


Finland-Vietnam IPP program selecting SolarFire/GoSol again

Posted Monday 30 April 2018 by Eva Wissenz.

Another recent reason to share happiness is that we have been selected for the second phase of VMAP+, a program from Finnish Innovation Partnership Program (IPP).

Last Autumn, we were part of the first phase and we have been very lucky to cooperate with Mrs. Pham Thi Thanh Huong, Business Advisory Manager at SNV Netherlands Development Organization. With her talented team, we are developing the best solution for this new market where many entrepreneurs have important needs in clean thermal energy.

Supported by IPP, VMAP enables the tailoring of tested and proven Finnish solutions for Vietnam and to initiate and accelerate long term partnerships between both countries for positive development impact.

From Ministry of Foreign Affairs Finland website: "Launched in 2009, IPP is the first development program between the Government of Finland and the Government of Vietnam in the science and technology sector. It answers well to the challenges Vietnam faces now as a lower middle-income country. As a result of its economic and social development as well as its public and private sector competence, Finland can afford a significant added value for Vietnam in developing knowledge based society. (...) IPP II endeavor is to create an ‘innovation ecosystem’ that strengthens the expertise and competence of all multi helix stakeholders as well as the awareness of stakeholders about each others’ roles. The goal is to develop an approach that multiplies the number of innovative products and services, thus creating added value and employment."


Autodesk Foundation renewing support for 2018

Posted Thursday 26 April 2018 by Eva Wissenz.

Last February, Autodesk Foundation team visited 2 groups of entrepreneurs in Kenya and they were fully convinced by the impact of the SOL5. On the top picture, our followers can identify Mr David Chepkwony, first solar baker in Kenya, always so enthusiastic and happy with his SOL5 at Koptige!

Jean Shia and Ryan Macpherson of Autodesk Foundation visiting the pilot projects (4th and 3rd from the left).

Our team is so happy to announce that the Autodesk Foundation (USA) is renewing us a grant this year to support our work for a very exciting support program.

Thanks to Autodesk Foundation, we were invited last year at Pier9 in San Francisco to learn CNC and prototype and they actively supported our educational actions in Kenya with our partner World Vision Kenya and World Vision Finland.

All the team is very motivated to continue the good job and expand the solar fire as much as possible!

Autodesk is inviting us at the Near Future Summit in California in May, so stay tuned!!


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