Solar Freeze
Portable freezers to fight food loss in Africa

Across the world, an enormous amount of food never makes it onto the plate. These food losses and waste amount to roughly €270 billion in developing countries alone. The main reason for this is the lack of storage and cooling facilities, meaning fruits, vegetables and animal products only last a fraction of their potential storage time. 

A new generation of young innovators in Africa wanted to change these statistics. “We watched our parents, grandparents and those before them work tirelessly,” explains Dysmus Kisilu, Founder of Solar Freeze. “They toiled in the rural farms only for a huge chunk of their fresh produce to rot away due to lack of proper cold storage units.”  

That’s why Kisilu and his team developed Solar Freeze: Portable cold storage units powered by solar energy for rural smallholder farmers of perishable produce. Their innovation extends the freshness of perishable foods from two days to more than 40 days by maintaining a controlled interior temperature of -20ºC.

Solar Freeze operates on a sharing economy model, where people borrow or rent the solar powered cold rooms owned by someone else. This brings the price of cold storage down significantly, making them much more accessible to smallholder farmers. Users can easily and cheaply make requests and payments via SMS, USSD or voice messages.

To date, the mobile freezers have successfully served around 3,000 small-scale farmers, 80% of whom are women, and reduced post-harvest loss by 95%.

Through Solar Freeze, farmers have also been able to increase their incomes by up to 150%. Now, they’re selling produce at optimum prices instead of desperately selling out of fear that their food will spoil. This access to cheaper fresh food has also reduced malnutrition for the consumers at the bottom of the pyramid.

In addition, the Solar Freeze project has participated in mentoring and training 300 young women into the field of renewable energy. Through a program called “Each One, Teach One” they equip rural youth with practical hands-on technical and design skills. They teach them how to operate, maintain and repair equipment, like the Solar Freeze, powered by renewable energy for agriculture.

Designers: Solar Freeze - Kenya
UN SDGs: Zero hunger & Affordable and clean energy

Solar Freeze from The Index Project on Vimeo. Music: Lee Rosevere