After an energetic 3 weeks training course with the inspirational students in Nebbi, Uganda, it has been an incredibly successful experience! Nebbi’s Smart Up Hub enrolls 40 students at a time, so 15 students were carefully selected for the first ever solar bakery training in the district. We felt very fortunate to have such a motivated and focused group to train as every student was super eager to get involved with all aspects of the training!
Nebbi experiences many power cuts throughout the day which can cause great difficulty for many restaurants in the area that rely on electricity. Using the Lytefire solar oven meant when the team baked they did not need to worry about this occurring issue and as long as the sun was shining they could carry on baking all day without any interruptions.
The majority of local shopkeepers and hotels in the area heavily relied on electricity, only few with backup generators. So the only other methods they had to rely on for cooking were charcoal, which was accessible but around 60kg for 35,000UGX (12 EUROS). Charcoal was used daily in Nebbi and 60kg of charcoal would only last a week of cooking. That is a LOT of money and it would mean street vendors would barely make a profit from the products they sold and produced.
"Charcoal, which was accessible but around 60kg for 35,000UGX (12 EUROS)"
During week 1 the trainers introduced the expectations of what the training would involve and how the Lytefire would influence them greatly within the baking market here in Nebbi town.
In the first week of training the students were already selling solar buns, cupcakes and cookies without any influence from the mission trainers!
One of the challenges during the first week was that Nebbi being such a small rural town, ingredients were hard to find so they had to travel across the border of Congo and buy their equipment.
We soon realized that Smart Up hub had a very huge advantage in town being the ONLY bakery in Nebbi! Through market research, the students recognized that all local shopkeepers that sold baked goods like bread, cakes and cookies were all transported from Aura or Kampala! This was a disadvantage for shopkeepers as they had to consider transport costs and wholesale prices. From the local market research the students had already made connections with shopkeepers and were ready for business to supply these local shops with their solar baked goods using the Lytefire solar oven!
"We soon realized that Smart Up hub had a very huge advantage in town being the ONLY bakery in Nebbi!"
During week 2 of training the students learnt how to market their bakery by creating a bakery name as a team, naming themselves ‘Smart up Solar Bakery’ and designing a logo, flyer and business card to attract customers and create brand awareness.
In a group discussion we spoke about the products the bakery wanted to produce, they explained that mandazi was very popular and that they were deep fried in oil. So as a group they decided they wanted to recreate a healthier version using the Lytefire solar oven! Our baker trainer, Hashimu, produced an oven baked mandazi recipe with the bakery team that the students experimented with. We can proudly say using the Lytefire 5 solar oven that these were the very first ever solar baked Mandazi in the world! (You can check out our solar baked mandazi reel on IG)
The temperature was perfect for baking with solar, averaging at 35°C every day! The bakery team wanted to learn how to make bread loaves as they had lots of interest from the surrounding community and shopkeepers as this was what most shops sold the most of out of baked goods. When the team placed the bread loaves in the oven they soon realized the temperature was too high so the bread didn’t rise. This was one unfortunate experience that they learnt from so the second time round, when they made the recipe again the oven was kept at a stable temperature with 2 students supervising the Lytefire oven consistently so the bread rose beautifully!
During week 3 of the training the students had full autonomy with baking, selling and marketing their products!
They understood the concept of how to run a bakery when they were baking with Hasheem as they were understanding the costing and pricing of their products which encouraged students to produce high quality goods that were also affordable for the local community.
Throughout the training the students were competent in producing sales and there were many orders from locals, for the solar baked mandazi, bread buns and occasion cakes.
Our ‘Solar demo day’ took place on Thursday in conjunction with the graduation of students here at Nebbi’s Smart Up hub. Amongst the students’ family and friends, Plan International officials attended along with politicians and the Nebbi district Mayor and district councilors were all present! They presented certificates to the newly established solar bakery team and celebrated by cutting the graduation cake they ordered from the Smart Up Solar Bakery and sharing the cake with the audience! There was such a wonderful turnout with the bakery team selling out of cookies, bread and cupcakes! It was a huge success and the awareness of the bakery is now well known amongst the local community
The team provided attendees with their newly creative business cards and flyers whilst showcasing their marketing skills.
The demonstration of the Lytefire 5 impressed the locals as they were used to charcoal being sold in immense quantities on the street. This gave the bakery such a great advantage to showcase the solar oven and promote its direct solar energy! Westnile TV covered the day and it was broadcast on live TV in Uganda! You can view this video on Youtube which is linked in a previous article if you would like to check out the success of Nebbi’s ‘Solar Demo Day’!
Check out our journey with the projects we are collaborating with for Plan Internationals Smart Up Factories on our social media channels!!