Dysmus KisiluFounder, Solar Freeze Kenya
Impact area: Economic empowerment; Sustainable Development Goal 8
Climate change is seriously disrupting agriculture and the livelihoods of small holder farmers in rural Kenya. “Growing seasons are erratic and produce goes to waste because it can’t be stored properly,” says Dysmus Kisulu, founder of Solar Freeze. And the problem doesn’t end in Kenya. Dysmus estimates that post-harvest losses in the developing world are as high as 80 percent.
Solar Freeze, a social enterprise, harnesses the power of the sun to bring cooling technology to small-scale farmers. Its portable, solar-powered refrigeration units preserve produce while boosting incomes.
With a grant from the Global Youth Resiliency Fund, Dysmus and his team distributed 10 solar-powered storage units to 150 smallholder farmers—80 percent of them women.
The low-cost cold storage units have reduced post-harvest loss by 95 percent, with household incomes increasing by 150 percent. While previously these farmers were forced to sell to middlemen out of fear and desperation that their produce would spoil, now they’re able to sell at fair-market prices.
Ten young women, ages 18 to 29, were trained through the project to install, operate, and maintain the units—gaining valuable skills in the renewable energy sector. More than 700 bottom of the pyramid consumers have also benefited from accessing cheaper fresh produce and reduced malnutrition.
Dysmus reports that the GYRF award helped Solar Freeze network and form new partnerships, for example, with SNV, a Kenyan NGO that is now helping the organization to increase the number of youth participating in its “Each one, Teach one—Train to Earn” program, whereby rural youth gain hands-on skills and are guided in how to operate equipment powered by renewable energy.
Watch a video of Dysmus, who received the 2021 Humanitarian Energy Award, describing his work through Solar Freeze.
Learn more about the critical work being done by Solar Freeze here.