Renewable Energy

Solar power keeps food cool in Kenya

On the eve of World Energy Day (22 October) we’re sharing a film we made with our partner SunFunder to show how renewable energy can transform people’s lives.

Christine Kalekye Mavuti is a farmer in Machakos, Kenya. She grows cabbages, which she takes to market—but if she can’t sell all her produce while it’s fresh, it goes to waste.

“If we cannot sell it, we give it to the cows or throw it away,” she says. “When I’ve worked so hard and it spoils, I feel so bad. You can’t earn money, so it is a waste.”

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates that up to 40% of food in sub-Saharan Africa spoils before it is sold. This can be significantly reduced by keeping produce cool. But that’s almost impossible if, like Christine, you live in a community without reliable access to electricity.

Solar-powered cold room

The IKEA Foundation is supporting SunFunder, a solar energy finance company that invests in solar companies in Africa. Among them is InspiraFarms, which has developed InspiraCool, a solar-powered cold room and processing system.

Thanks to their work, Christine’s community now has one of these cold rooms, which means they can keep their produce fresh.

“This is a good project because it will economically uplift our village,” says Christine. “It will really help them because they’ll have a market for their produce, so they won’t have crop waste. They’ll get work and earn money and use that money to uplift their homes.”

Green and inclusive development

The IKEA Foundation supports partners like SunFunder because we believe it will help people develop their income and assets in a green and inclusive way. We accelerate this change through collaboration and scale.

“As the public, governments and investors wake up to climate change globally, renewables are gaining momentum in our everyday lives,” says Jolanda van Ginkel, IKEA Foundation Programme Manager for Renewable Energy. “We want to impress on those who are still sitting on the fence about the switch by showing stories like the one in this film that champions productive use of renewable energy.”

Ryan Levinson, SunFunder CEO, says: “Our partnership with IKEA Foundation enables us to provide scalable financing to earlier-stage companies working on innovative and high impact applications of renewable energy.

“This film captures the chain reaction of positive change that we are working together for. We’re proud to partner with a bold funder like IKEA Foundation to benefit people’s lives and the environment for the long term.”

On the eve of World Energy Day, let us champion renewable energy heroes in our communities.