In 2018 the Lytefire solar oven was installed in Gulu, it was then relocated in 2021 and transported from Gulu to Lira’s Smart Up Factory location at the Lira West City Division. As part of the refresher training, the team, Callum, Hannah and Hasheem, revisited the Lira hub for 2 weeks, training the students on more technical skills of using the Lytefire 5 and helping them advance their baking knowledge and skills.
Lira is a small city, based in the northern region of Uganda where you may find yourself in the heart of the city which is energetic and frantic!
But if you take a 10 minute boda boda (motorbike ride) out of the city you are welcomed with the charming abundance of nature, vast green lands and a community life of agricultural farming. With an increasing population of 119,323 in 2022 from 99,059 in 2014 there is no wonder children are forced to work on the streets, finding ways of generating money and with the lack of parental care and neglect these children and adolescents are finding themselves with lack of employment, education and support.
Plan International’s Smart Up Factory provides training throughout many locations in Uganda that offers training opportunities to disadvantaged and vulnerable youths so they have a second chance of education and gain employment. Smart Up hub is a 10-15 minute ride away from the city center so this gives students a wonderful opportunity to engage and market their bakery with city people and the local communities close by.
As this was a refresher training the team were training the students with the older version of the Lytefire 5 solar oven. So there were a few differences in this machine regarding the mirrors but the overall durability of the Lytefire 5 since the transportation from Gulu was running very reliably with very little damage. A few mirrors needed replacing, which is ongoing when focusing and refocusing the mirrors during training. The overall structure of the machine was sturdy, stable and long standing with 3 mentors who were previously there when the Lytefire 5 arrived, maintained and knew how to use and look after the machine.
For the duration of training we implemented the improvement of their current finance and bookkeeping so they could record cash flow, sales profits and inventory accurately and efficiently. This also included the students learning the basics of understanding how costing and pricing of recipes work so they can recognize how to price each of their different baked goods and how to make a profit. Callum guided the team on focal training so they could really understand how to maintain, work and fix the Lytefire technology for the future of their bakery. This took 2 days while we had one main mentor who felt very passionate about the preservation and management of the solar oven monitored the Lytefire everyday making sure it was in working order!
As an already established bakery from the previous training was delivered, the bakery team named themselves ‘Sun Smart Bakery’. They were operating as a bakery before we arrived but since the refresher training they informed us since we left that they have been baking everyday with made to order cakes! We also experimented with recipes that would work in the Lira district, especially cupcakes as they were previously selling these. After the bakery team baked solar cupcakes with a new recipe, Hasheem (our baker trainer) provided them with and radically improved their cupcake recipe and they were soon selling many of these to locals! Hasheem also taught the students how to save money by making products that were readily accessible in the area such as ginger cookies, mango tarts and banana muffins.
As the location in Lira was not based in the city center and many students did not have a smartphone we explored offline marketing techniques with the bakery team. After teaching the students the entrepreneurship module we discussed Marketing and the importance of brand awareness where we asked the group to create a logo and business card. We soon discovered that this particular area worked well with word of mouth, events and networking to gain exposure of their solar bakery.
The whole 2 weeks of training the team baked completely with direct solar energy with the Lytefire oven! As the Lytefire is made with high quality materials and manufactured in our workshop in Kisumu, the solar oven has a lifespan up to 19 years with a social impact of saving many of the solar bakeries money by not relying on or using firewood, charcoal or electricity.
During demo day our guest of honor, the deputy mayor of Lira city west division came along and supported the bakery team by speaking about the Smart Up project.