Blog of Lorin Symington

In Kenya, rural solar entrepreneurs share on SOL5

Posted Tuesday 29 May 2018 by Lorin Symington.

We’re pleased to bring you the latest footage from our end user entrepreneurs in Western Kenya. Our partners at World Vision Kenya asked the bakers from Afmago Misire Bakery and the Koptige Women’s Group to share their thoughts on their experiences baking with sunlight over the past year.

Misire is using the SOL5 to bake since 2017 thanks to sponsorship from Wärtsilä and Koptige since two years now. For Koptige, it’s always the chief baker speaking. Indeed, David Chepkowny is a very convinced solar entrepreneur, fluent in English and the additional SOL5 his group got since last year will give a good boost.

I’m so thrilled to see our vision for a solar economy becoming a reality. Look how the corn grows right up to the SOL5, using maximum sunlight!

The groups are reporting significant positive impact as well as increased esteem in their communities. They’re very proud to have been featured in one of the national newspapers:

The groups are reporting significant positive impact as well as increased esteem in their communities. They’re very proud to have been featured in one of the national newspapers:

Article: https://www.businessdailyafrica.com/corporate/enterprise/Kisii-group-bakes-livelihood-making-banana-bread/4003126-4561350-67of87/index.html

Thanks to Autodesk Foundation, we’re busy planning new innovations and features that our solar bakers have recommended.

We’re really grateful for everyone in Kenya and everything they do to document and share how reliable, safe and affordable it is to go solar with SOL5.


Update from Kenya projects: Training Entrepreneurs

Posted Friday 23 February 2018 by Lorin Symington.

Last week, members from all the GoSol projects participated in a capacity building training session on Village Savings and Loans Methodology organised by World Vision.

The training session covered such topics as microfinance products, various financial calculations formula, savings habits, best habits for transparency and accountability and a number of other tools for entrepreneurs.

From our experiences working with small businesses in the developing world, the more business skills our entrepreneurs have the more they recognize the value of our SOL5. For example, Koptige bakery last year reported electricity savings over 600€. Among all our pilots, Koptige remains the most dynamic ; click here to see the video we made after 1 year of baking with the SOL5..

When entrepreneurs are keeping good records and calculating their various expenditures it makes the energy savings from using solar energy that much clearer!


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.

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.

Return to Solar Oven in Kenya

Posted Tuesday 4 April 2017 by Lorin Symington.

Thanks to the support of our founding sponsor Wärtsilä we are back Kenya since two months, following up on the pilot projects that we started in cooperation with Weconomy and World Vision about a year ago. 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. Stay tuned.


Sol4 Save Trees

Posted Wednesday 9 March 2016 by Lorin Symington.

After moving to the city for school, Nayazim Raouzi Peskala is thinking about green ways to build businesses back home. Hear him share his thoughts with us after seeing the Sol4 in action at The Innovation Hub in Pretoria, South Africa. Let’s hope solar bakeries will spread widely very soon and we can have a positive impact.


Drying Fruits With Solar?

Posted Thursday 14 January 2016 by Lorin Symington.

After seeing the Sol4 in action at The Innovation Hub in South Africa, student of entrepreneurship Bobofranz Mafendela was excited to share with us the opportunities he sees for implementing GoSol technology back home in Sekhukhune District, Limpopo, South Africa. Can you imagine solar dried fruits everywhere?


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