Solar-Powered Cold Storage Innovators Shine in Africa: EEP Africa Awards

Baridi and SokoFresh Recognized for Transformative Cold Chain Solutions

by Adenike Adeodun


  • EEP Africa awarded Baridi and SokoFresh as the best Start-up and Scale-Up projects for 2023, respectively, for their innovative solar-powered cold storage solutions.
  • Baridi focuses on providing affordable cooling services for urban meat markets, while SokoFresh offers portable cold rooms to smallholder farmers, reducing post-harvest losses and improving market access.
  • Both companies received funding from EEP Africa in 2020 and have demonstrated significant impact through their initiatives, aiming to scale up their operations and make a lasting difference in Africa’s agricultural sector.

In a bid to tackle post-harvest losses and enhance food security, two solar-powered cold storage companies have emerged as trailblazers in Africa. The Energy and Environment Partnership (EEP) Africa recently named Baridi and SokoFresh as the winners of its start-up and scale-up projects for 2023, respectively.

Each year, EEP Africa acknowledges companies that have made significant strides in innovation, delivery, impact, and fundraising. The Project of the Year Start-Up award is bestowed upon a company in its early stages that demonstrates innovation or market-opening potential. Meanwhile, the Project of the Year Scale Up award recognizes a company that is expanding its operations and making a broader impact.

An international jury comprising representatives from prominent organizations selected Baridi as the Project of the Year in the Start-Up category. Founded by women entrepreneurs, Baridi specializes in providing solar-powered cold storage solutions within East Africa’s livestock value chains. Their innovative approach offers affordable cooling services to urban meat markets, thereby enhancing food security, conserving energy, and reducing carbon emissions.

Baridi’s business model revolves around linking local meat vendors with meat markets and agribusiness players, facilitating the preservation of perishable goods. Initially funded by EEP Africa in 2020, Baridi tested a pay-as-you-go store business model at the Burma Market in Nairobi. However, after realizing the limitations of this approach, the company pivoted towards a direct sales model targeting businesses and institutions interested in cold chain research and circular economy initiatives.

Additionally, Baridi has ventured into partnerships for distributing fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), leveraging its strategic positioning in urban centers to meet consumer demand efficiently. Since its inception in 2021, Baridi has successfully preserved 500,000 kg of meat, fulfilled 8,700 cooling service orders, and mitigated 6.3 tonnes of CO2 emissions while generating 10.9 MWh of solar energy.

On the other hand, SokoFresh, the winner of the Scale Up category, focuses on providing cold storage solutions and market linkages to small and medium-scale farmers in Kenya. Recognizing the significance of reducing post-harvest losses and improving market access for farmers, SokoFresh offers portable cold rooms that can be relocated based on produce seasonality.

With funding from EEP Africa in 2020, SokoFresh embarked on a pilot project aimed at testing cooling services across various fresh produce value chains, including avocados, mangoes, bananas, French beans, and herbs. The pilot project, which engaged over 8,000 farmers, yielded promising results, with farmers experiencing a 20% increase in income and a notable reduction in food waste.

Moreover, SokoFresh developed an additional business model tailored for fresh produce aggregators, enabling them to integrate cold storage services into their infrastructure. This innovation streamlined logistics and enhanced the quality of fresh produce while minimizing the need for traditional brick-and-mortar cold rooms.

In 2023, SokoFresh expanded its operations to six new hubs across Kenya, generating 54,900 kWh of solar energy and handling 4,000 metric tons of produce. Furthermore, the company secured equity and debt investments from early-stage investors, signaling its potential for growth and scalability.

Looking ahead, both Baridi and SokoFresh are seeking further investment and strategic partnerships to scale up their operations and make a lasting impact on agricultural sustainability in Africa. Through their innovative approaches to solar-powered cold storage, these companies are revolutionizing the agricultural landscape and driving positive change for farmers and consumers alike.

Source: ESI Africa

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