Last updated: 10 March 2017
A solar cooker allows its user to cook meals in a cleaner and more economical way for themselves and their family, but it can also be a powerful income generation tool. For example, individuals have opened solar restaurants and bakeries as well as businesses to build solar cookers in and for their community. Starting a solar cooking business is an effective way to generate income and improve one's community in the process.
Find business development resources below on seed funding, start-up and management best practices, and related topics.
- January 2013: Solar Circle uses barter system to distribute 3000 solar cookers in Tanzania - The NGO Solar Circle has learned many things from their solar cooking program in Masasi, southern Tanzania. People will use solar cookers if they are efficient and affordable, which is often a problem for subsistence farmers who are most in need of the cookers even when the cookers are heavily subsidized. However, they have also learned that people will work hard to earn a solar cooker. The group has created a bartering system with community leaders. The community chooses a service project and the beneficiaries organize and oversee the effort. Participants earn an solar oven for their involvement. So far, the program has distributed more than 3000 solar ovens, and built 40 houses for people who are sick, elderly, widowed, or disabled. Because the community chooses the project and beneficiary, there’s an eagerness to work together. Surrounding villages have heard of the cookers and the program, so spreading the word has been easy. They cannot keep up with demand. The barter program relies on external help with finances, but community service represents the same effort that of money earned in outside employment. Solar Circle values that effort, and raises what money it can from friends to expand the program.
- December 2012: Solar cooking has created a business opportunity for a group of women in Zambia - The Solar Health and Education Project (SHEP) has initiated a project at a community-based nursery school in Livingstone, Zambia for unschooled mothers. Previously, their only source of income had been illegally making charcoal. During the course of the program, they learned how to make and use the CooKit solar cooker as an income generating activity. Thier next step was to create a registered group called Solar Ventures (SV). They have been holding SHEP-funded workshops at clinics, schools, agricultural shows (where they won 1st place for the most interesting booth in 2011), and government-sponsored functions on energy and conservation. They were invited to Lusaka to run a three-day workshop for a UK based NGO. Their life is certainly different now since their introduction to solar cooking.
Solar cooking business examples
- Roughly 50% of the mangos produced globally are grown in India. The harvest often leads to a significant surplus of mangos, more than could be effectively distributed and consumed before spoilage would occur. Employing solar drying equipment allows for excess stock to be dried and sold year round.
Kiva provides a way for people in developed countries to lend money to small entrepreneurs in developing countries to help the latter set up or improve local businesses. Kiva works through partners in each country.
- See also: Kiva partners by country on the SCI Wiki country pages.
Entrepreneurship and field projects
- January 2017: How Solar Connect Association Sustains the Solar Cooking Business, 6th SCI World Conference 2017 - Kawesa Mukasa
- October 2016: How Solar Connect sustains the solar cooking business, September 2016 - Kawesa Mukasa
Food processing/industrial applications
- January 2017: If No One Copies it or Tries to Steal It—Is It Worth Nothing? State of the Art of Small Automatic Parabolic Through Steam Systems for Food Processing - Michael Götz
- January 2017: Production of Solar Processed Food in Search Alternatives in Nutrition, Conversation, Diversification and Valorisation of Resources in Oaxaca Mexico - Victoria Aguilera Velazco
Policy and finance
- NEW: A Detailed Study of Black Carbon and its Regional Impacts - Tulasi Ravindran, Dr. Alan Bigelow, Dr. Arline Lederman
- January 2017: Diaspora Financing, Developing a Strong Solar Cooking Industry in the Region - Ignacio R. Smith and Sherry McMillan
- January 2017: Experience of Financing a Solar Cookers Project for Fifteen Years in the Andean Region of South America - Rocio Maldonado
- January 2017: Online Marketing Strategies - Tailored for Solar Cooking - Even Haug Larsen
- Public Policy to Support National and Local Movement of Solar Cookers - Pedro Serrano
- January 2017: Testing Phase of the First Solar Restaurant of France - Pierre-André Aubert
Audio and video
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- Manufacturners and vendors
- Raising funds through grants and donations
- Solar restaurants and bakeries
- Solar food drying
- Solar food processing