Kampala, the capital of Uganda is the most exhilarating city I have ever experienced! With a population of 3.6 million it is no wonder Kampala is a dynamic and fast-paced environment where you can find yourself getting lost in the hustle and bustle of the city!
The Kabalagala Smart Up hub is a KCCA (Kampala Capital City Authority) owned building. The Smart Up Factory works closely with the KCCA and they help with funding the project for Plan International Uganda. The Kabalagala one stop youth hub is a 25 minute ride from the center of town which makes it the perfect location for a bakery providing solar baked goods to local shopkeepers and the opportunity to supply and transport to the town center also.
The youth center became operational in December 2017 with partnership with Plan International from 2018. Since opening the Kabalagala hub they have trained 900 students (270 Males, 630 females) primarily focusing on young vulnerable women in cooperation with Plan International. The team arrived at the Smart Up hub where many other training sessions included hairdressing, shoemaking, graphic design and tailoring. With slow economic growth and accelerating high population rates there is a high unemployment percentage in Uganda. This is where KCCA plans to help solve this situation working alongside Plan International where they create projects such as Smart Up factory to offer free vocational training for young people.
During the first week of training, 1 Lytefire 5 solar oven was delivered to the hub where the students would learn all technical aspects of assembly and disassembly, how to calibrate and focus the mirrors to understand how the concentration of heat in the oven works. Alongside the technical training, Callum, our mission based trainer taught solar science explaining the effects of climate change and global warming. He explained the impact it has on the environment and how using the Lytefire technology can create solutions instead of problems such as deforestation from using firewood and charcoal to cook with.
(Installation of the Lytefire 5 & the traditional stick burning test)
Kampala weather conditions were hazy and the sun shone later in the afternoon. The hub surprised us when we found that they had previously baked briquettes before the Lytefire 5 solar oven arrived. Briquettes are composed of commonly found organic household or agricultural waste, such as peanut shells, banana peels and matooke leaves etc. The students at the hub compressed these by hand into small dense products that can be used instead of charcoal and excess amounts of wood harvested from nearby forests.
As the Smart Up hub was a 10 minute walk from one of the busiest roads with an immense selection of shops, restaurants and bakeries, we split the groups to conduct market research and recognize their potential competitors! When we discussed this as a class, the students understood the importance of having high quality products at affordable prices to attract customers! So of course we had to organize a taste test where the students would try products from local shops and bakers and what they would do differently to make their products taste more delicious!
They realized that to sell their own baked goods they must experiment with recipes, comprehend the costing and pricing of ingredients to determine their price per product. The market research also gave students knowledge on marketing, branding and selling techniques for their own solar bakery!
The students at the Kabalagala hub were so excited about making doughnuts as Kampala had a market for them but not a recipe as exciting as solar baked chocolate decorated doughnuts! Amongst experimenting with doughnuts, the students had also baked G-nut cookies and cupcakes during the second week of training so to test their selling abilities we gave all students a selection of each product to sell over the weekend to generate sales. To our surprise they ALL sold out of the products and between them made a huge profit of 204,000!
(Chocolate decorated solar baked doughnuts and cupcakes!)
Week 3 of training was the combination of all aspects of the modules taught to the students where they continued lots of baking for solar demo day and working out the costing and pricing of each individual product! They were educated in the importance of record keeping, inventory and cash flow to understand how to sustain a bakery business. A few students who were advanced in graphics were taking images and using these for marketing techniques on the brochures to showcase their unique products and attract new customers.
The students were so excited and inspired their sales and the entrepreneurship and marketing module that they begin straight away with the name of the bakery calling themselves ‘Solar Tech Bakery’. After the marketing module was taught we asked students to create a logo, business cards, food labels and brochures! They even created an Instagram account to display off their new baking knowledge and skills from the Lytefire training with images!
(Brocheres, business cards and food label stickers created by the students)
The launch of Solar Demo day had the students exhibiting their established solar bakery with an impressive display of delicious and tasty baked goods! These included a wide variety of products of decorated occasion cakes, cookies, cupcakes, doughnuts and pizza. From the previous week they had made to order decorated occasion cakes from customers in the local community which were on display for many officials of Kampala to feast their eyes on!
The sales they made were 91,000 in total with the guest of honor, the minister of Kampala buying 200 G-nut cookies at 50,000UGX (12 EUROS)! The day was full of joy, accomplishment and celebrating the success of Lytefire 5 solar oven at the Kabalagala hub with the 15 students graduating with a set of new skills and a mind of solar baking knowledge!
An article from the Kampala Solar Demo Day: https://www.kcca.go.ug/news/515#.YiiLd3xBzrc
Kampala’s solar bakery IG: @solartech_bakery