A new artisanal bakery could open in Senegal as early as the end of March, delivering fresh, tasty bread that is also produced CO2-neutrally with solar power.
The special thing about it: The bakery will be completely set up in a container and shipped to Senegal from Munich by the German start-up Solarbakery. The solar modules and the mounting system are then unpacked and installed on site. The equipment for the bakery and a carefully separated, insulated, and air-conditioned room will remain in the ship’s container, which is almost 14 meters long and 2.45 meters wide. A battery storage system is also embedded in the container and is intended to provide enough power for the early shift.
The idea for Solarbakery came from Simon Zimmermann, who, together with a partner, had already deployed a container bakery in Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Through this business, the company achieved sales of US$128,000 in the first fiscal year, but the power supply of the bakeries was still being ensured by polluting and expensive diesel power generators
As a co-founder of Solarbakery, Zimmermann was able to win over Torsten Schreiber, who had been working with Africa Greentec on the solar electrification of African villages and is now responsible for converting the bakery container for photovoltaic operation. For this, the bakery is given a solar roof with 144 modules totaling 52 kW. The company’s third founder, Daniel Petruccelli, is a master baker. He changed the production process to that the majority of electricity consumption is incurred during the day, with the finished bread only briefly reheated in the dark before dawn. He also trains employees and works on new recipes.
Solarbakery is being financed by a crowdfunding campaign on the Conda platform. The target is €500,000, of which more than €300,000 have already been raised. While 17 days remain in the fundraising period, the campaign may be extended by two months if the goal is not achieved in the allotted time, Zimmermann said. The money will initially be used to deploy two bakeries. One is going directly to Senegal, where a production facility for further solar bakeries and Africa Greentec’s mobile power plants are expected to be built in Dakar, Zimmermann added. A second bakery will initially remain in Germany as a demonstration model to convince investors to invest in the company or directly in a solar bakery.
In the future, Solarbakery wants to utilize three different business models. First, there is the construction of its own bakeries, which are then operated by partners in Africa at their own locations. Second, containers are to be sold as turnkey solutions in which buyers operate a bakery under their own name. “Aid organizations, for example, come into question,” said Zimmermann. The third variant is a lease model in which local entrepreneurs rent a bakery without large upfront costs and use the proceeds to finance the monthly installments. “But that only works when the processes are sufficiently standardized for a franchise.”
Solarbakery offers crowdfunding investors an interest rate of 4.5 percent over seven years and a bonus interest if the business develops positively. In any case, the interest in the idea is huge, Zimmermann beamed.
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