Jambo mambo ! Habari ako ? Nzuri sana ! Greetings and salutations from Mwanza, Tanzania. Also known as Rock City, this city of about a million people is in the western part of the country and has about a million inhabitants. It is here that you can find Mwanza Montessori school, a wonderful institution devoted to wholesome and child focused education. The School is led by Sister Denise, who we connected with in Switzerland and enabled the installation of three Lytefire 5 solar ovens at their school to bake bread, cookies and cakes for the student population.
The school had an old unused shipping container that had been modified into a shop, with windows, doors, cupboards and shelves already built into it and during our pre-project survey we identified this as an ideal location for the ovens. Our Kenyan fabricator Jared traveled to Mwanza ahead of the project to scout out if there were suitable places for the Lytefires nearby to the container and then, due to uneven ground, he built 3 concrete ring foundations to host the ovens.
The installation of the machines was done collaboratively, with our team of project managers instructing teachers, students and school support staff how to install and calibrate the Lytefire5.
Next we headed into the classroom where we taught these lively youngsters about the fundamentals of entrepreneurship. We covered such topics as procurement, inventory, hygiene, quality control, bookkeeping, profit margin calculations and how to develop a business plan. Below you can see our Kenyan country representative Joan Arwa, teaching the kids the difference in profit between buying retail and buying wholesale :
It’s our experience that young students are much more focused and well behaved if there are going to be cookies after school ;)
Montessori education consists of a lot of hands-on learning. ‘Teach me to do it by myself’ is a common saying amongst Montessori educators. That’s one of the reasons that our program fit so well with the Maria Montessori philosophy because we very much emphasize practical learning. We mix classroom sessions learning theory with the practical experience of creating tasty treats from scratch :
Cookies and cupcakes are great and get the students very excited but the primary reason for this initiative was to bake higher quality bread at a lower cost for the students. Previously, the school had been buying buns from a commercial bakery in town. Included in the price, as we learned in class there are fuel costs to bake, delivery fees and the profit margin of the business. Thanks to our intrepid team we found the cheapest places in town to buy all the ingredients and, without need to buy gas, electricity or charcoal to bake the bread, we managed to cut the schools’ bread budget nearly in half ! Feast your eyes on the delicious buns that our master baker Hasheem taught us all how to bake :
The final week involved some experimentation and optimisation of production flows and schedules, calculating recipes so that we match the size and weight of the commercial buns and also fill up the baking trays precisely, practicing the timing of starting the dough, heating up the Lytefire, letting the bread prove as we wash dishes, and then bake while reviewing the theory components. We’re extremely proud of the students and staff who took up this opportunity with enthusiasm. No project, however, is complete without a demo day !
We invited the families of participants, as well as some local dignitaries and other educators to come and see the results of our entrepreneurship and solar bakery training package. Of course we had to invite the students that didn’t have the chance to participate in the training as well and feed them lots of buns and cookies and the beautiful cakes you can see on the picture below ! The students and staff alike were excited to demonstrate their newly acquired skills and the power of the Lytefires and the crowd was happy to smell and taste cookies being baked solely by the power of the sun.
We at GoSol and the Mwanza Montessori school would like to thank Kloster Baldegg for making this project possible !
Thanks also to the team : Jared and Joan from Kenya, our new other project manager Sam Rodrigues, and Hanna Gregory and Callum McRobbie who were volunteering.