Solarfreeze, a Kenya-based start-up, is a successful localized solution to food insecurity in Sub-Saharan Africa. Dysmus Kisilu, Solafreeze’s founder, represents a generation of young African entrepreneurs who tackles the core social and economic challenges of the continent. He created Solarfreeze to address post-harvest food losses by offering portable cold storage units powered by solar energy for rural smallholder farmers. Solarfreeze is now piloted in Kakuma Refugee Camp to help the refugee and host communities durably achieve food security and secure livelihoods.
Solarfreeze is one of the 11 start-ups of Google’s global SDG accelerator.
The motivation: A significant barrier to inclusive growth, access to employment, and increased food productivity in Sub-Saharan Africa is the lack of access of most smallholder farmers to modern farming equipment. There are an estimated 550 million smallholder farms in the world, producing up to 80% of the food consumed and supporting up to two billion people. Agriculture is Africa's biggest employer, accounting for about 60% of the GDP's in many of the continent’s countries. The workforce is composed of a majority of women who use basic tool with low levels of productivity.
“We watched our parents, grandparents and those before them work tirelessly in the rural farms only for a huge chunk of their fresh produce to rot away due to lack of proper cold storage units” Dysmus Kisilu indicates.
Now, Solar Freeze provides access to productive use assets such as solar powered cold storage for both the preservation of agricultural produce and the healthcare sector.
The tech: The solution offers a one stop turnkey portable off-grid toolkit for localized food production containing a complete ecosystem of smart farm technologies to enhance agricultural productivity, from 3kWp solar power and micro-drip irrigation, to solar powered cold storage and IoT Smartfarm Kit with Wi-Fi connectivity. The portable unit comes equipped with all core components needed to start and maintain a 1-acre farm ideal for African smallholder farmers.
The change: It increases smallholder farmers productivity by 200 percent, reduces water waste by 90 percent, and enables more women and youth entrepreneurs to reach employment through Solarfreeze’s micro-franchising model.
Solarfreeze's top message for World Refugee Week:
“Productive use of assets can make a difference to the lives of refugees not only do they increase incomes but they also provide sustainable livelihoods to communities and families that had no access to such equipment.” Dysmus Kisilu