Sustainable and effective cold chains are crucial for the transportation of food and medicine, but in many parts of rural Africa they have been sorely lacking. Tackling this issue is a Kenyan startup SolarFresh, which is using solar energy in fruits and vegetable cold transportation trucks and retail kiosks.
“Two years ago, I set off on a bus journey to visit the North of Kenya – an arid and semiarid area therefore very hot. The journey took 22 hours and upon arrival, I noticed that the bus was offloading sacks of vegetables, potatoes and fruits which had gone yellow, drippy and soggy. I learnt that these were actually for human consumption. This got me thinking on how to harness solar energy in the transport sector to ensure that such produce gets to the North of Kenya while still fresh. That is how SolarFresh was born,” Millicent Angaya, the Managing Director at SolarFresh explains.
SolarFresh is a logistics service company that harnesses solar energy to keep fruits and vegetables fresh. The company provides logistic services to vendors with solar powered cold containers and trucks that are insulated to harness solar energy.
“These trucks have reduced vendor losses up to 40 percent and therefore more profit for the vendors. Initially the vendors say they usually got losses of 60-100 percent in case of a breakdown in transport,” says Millicent.
The startup also has solar powered kiosks which are run as franchises by entrepreneurial locals from vulnerable communities in Kakuma town which has over 200,000 people. The number one provider of fresh fruits and vegetable supplies in communities living in arid areas of Kenya believe that everyone deserves fresh and safe food. The founders hope to be the fruits and vegetable provider of choice for businesses and consumers in arid areas.
Solar fresh has a positive impact on the planet as it uses green energy for cooling the containers and only use diesel as fuel. This has reduced carbon emissions by 86 percent.