Solution Overview

Solution Name:

Cooling Down the Drylands of Kenya

One-line solution summary:

A solar powered Cold Storage Facility that provides both cooling and electricity to viable livestock markets in East & Southern Africa

Pitch your solution.

37% of land resources within Kenya are owned and managed by pastoralists yet their economies only contribute to 12% of the nation’s GDP. Northern Kenya especially faces this challenge due to its inability to process raw by-products into commercially marketable entities. 

Prime Organic Beef consumer trends are emerging due to their more efficient approach in terms of land-use, animal welfare, and socio-climatic impacts. Pastoralists could capitalize on higher valued international city markets by supplying an ever-growing demand for sustainable protein.

The project idea addresses the expansion of off-grid electrification with an aim to assess whether cold storage facilities for meat and dairy preservation is an appropriate, beneficial and financially viable productive application especially for semi-arid economies. 

Film your elevator pitch.

What specific problem are you solving?

With Africa’s population projected to more than double by the middle of the century to 2.5bn and GDP per capita on the continent expected to continue rising, meat consumption will become affordable to millions of Africans for the first time. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimates that the consumption of beef and pork on the continent will increase 200% between 2015 and 2050, while poultry consumption will grow by 211%.

The rapid growth of meat consumption in Africa will provide attractive opportunities for investors, but making storage more efficient, protecting the environment and improving smallholder livelihoods poses quite a challenge. For Africa’s policymakers, the question will be how to nurture a shift to more efficient modes of production to meet demand and encourage exports.

Recognising the importance of pastoralists within Africa – Approx. 99% of Nigeria’s cattle are managed by herders- can pave way to allocation of technology and production practices that would allow the domestic market to supply consumer demand for beef over time without resulting to emulating capital intensive imports. Experts argue that even a system as 'unproductive' as nomadic herding could play a rejuvenated part in the continent’s livestock industry, given the right support.

What is your solution?

The project idea addresses the expansion of off-grid electrification with an aim to assess whether cold storage facilities for meat & dairy preservation is an appropriate, beneficial and financially viable productive application for semi-arid livestock economies.

The project is designed to be a result-based implementation that entails 2 setups;

First; involve a solution that can eliminate barriers that come with technologies that have the potential to enable viable commercial ecosystems within a remote community. This should be achieved through a 15kWp off-grid mini-grid electrification system that would connect 1,050 consumers within 120 connections rolling out a provision of up to 99.01kWh/day

Secondly; provide access to a 40ft Cold Storage Facility that would solve the largest challenge that comes with meat and dairy preservation which is Post-Slaughter Food Loss by providing Cooling as a Service where pastoralists would be able to chill over 3,000 tons of animal produce annually within a maintained temp. between -0.9 to 2 degrees Celsius.

The performance design of our hybrid systems consider energy-efficient, zero-emission strategies that can keep remotely operated technology optimal within relatively warmer communities. Our sensing and IoT controls will allow easy monitoring control, reduced operation oversight and lower OPEX cost.

Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?

Our target users are pastoralist centers that can adopt Solar Powered Communal Refrigeration to aggregate and cool their meat & dairy produce efficiently. 

The selected target site is Merille Centre, a secondary market that is fed from five local Laisamis producers within Marsabit county, Kenya. The centre ultimately supplies meat and dairy within terminal markets in Nairobi, Isiolo and Meru. Merille centre operates on a weekly basis with volumes of trade averaging 6,700 goats/month with an informal monthly turnover to KES 10m. Goat trading especially offers potential for profits of 22,500 Ksh/month which is enough to meet minimum food expenditure and investment in health, education & livelihood.

Pastoralism has a unique ability to convert scarce natural resources into meat, milk, income, and livelihoods especially in an age where consumer trends are conscious on more efficient approaches in terms land- use, animal welfare and socio-climatic impacts.

One of the largest challenges noted in these communities is Post-Slaughter Beef loss, due to the perishable nature of livestock produce and the isolation from abattoirs with availability of storage infrastructure. Pastoralists within the Horn of Africa’s greatest need is to capitalize on supplying an ever-growing consumer demand of sustainable protein.

Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?

Improve supply chain practices to reduce food loss, scale new business models for producer-market connections, and create low-carbon cold chains

Explain how the problem, your solution, and your solution’s target population relate to the Challenge and your selected dimension.

Most Small Holder Case studies are often conducted in Fishery or Cultivation communities as project developers assume these as the most profitable economies. Pastoralists are often neglected and fall as 'Bottom-Of-The-Pyramid' consumers regardless of their abundance in solar, land and livestock resources.

Each Cold Room we aim to introduce within a Livestock market has the potential to increase slaughter yields by more than 150% by simply keeping meat frozen. During times of drought, semiarid pastoralists watch their livestock die due to the lack of post-slaughter storage options. The technology drastically reduces food waste allowing leverage on competitive market prices.

Who is the primary delegate for your solution?

Tracy Kimathi - Founder

What is your solution’s stage of development?

Prototype: A venture or organization building and testing its product, service, or business model

In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?

Nairobi, Kenya
More About Your Solution

If you have additional video content that explains your solution, provide a YouTube or Vimeo link here:

Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new business model or process

Describe what makes your solution innovative.

The following gives an outlook of noted competitors, their strengths & limitation and our view on how our solution benchmarks in value.

1. Transport Refrigeration

Competitor example: eNow

This comprises of cooling mobility solutions that offer services to collect fresh produce from small holder beef farmers across trade routes linking their produce directly from ‘slaughter’ to urban abattoirs.

2. Live Animal Market

Competitor example: Garsen Livestock Market, Kenya

Probably the biggest competitor of storing meat produce in pastoralist value chains is the act of selling animals live within markets. The idea is built on the premise that livestock markets function as the main convergence points for pastoralists from different geographical areas

What Makes Our Solution Unique?

Portable Cooling trucks tend to only be available for 6hours each week per market, this cuts down on time which is essential for meat farmers, whose sole purpose of cooling their produce is to weigh out profitable markets.

Live Animal markets show a constraint on limiting processing ability i.e. 70% of urban meat consumption in Nairobi is sourced from ‘Laisami’ markets that are managed by brokers who monopolize the markets

Our solutions are fixed infrastructures that are designed based on existing permanent markets, this gives the community an ability to aggregate and create an inventory management system over long periods of time. Additionally, our technology enables small holder markets to process their raw by-products into 'packaged' commercial entities that can be sold directly to meat consumers within urban residents and tourist markets i.e. hotels.

Describe the core technology that powers your solution.

The predominant technology used for this communal off-grid project is a PV/Battery Hybrid system. The energy is to be generated from an array of 57x250 Watt (W) Direct Current (DC) Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels with a recorded 14.25kWpeak power capacity, stored by 24 Lithium-ion batteries of (900Ah x 2V) charge/discharge current with an 89% round-rip efficiency and 10,000 life-cycle capacity. The solar panels will be backed up by an SMA Tripower 15000TL inverter while the batteries to have 3-SMA Sunny Island 8.0H inverters, each with AC output capacity.

The performance design of our cooling systems consider;

1. IoT for Payment & Monitoring- Micro financing is a large feature of our solution. The Pay-As-You-Store service will enable remote micro-payment from vendors through mobile money systems (which is quite rampant in Kenya via MPesa).

2. Roofing designs set up by single-ply, water-tight monolithic barriers that minimize air leaks, thermal loss, and excess moisture penetration.

3. Insulated Sandwich Panels with superb vapor barriers and hygienic finish This enables the storage of different commodities at different cooling temperatures. Our value add on efficiency is to opt for white-coated PIR cellular foams that encourage thermal insulation.

4. Flooring for the facility considers Urethane concrete floors which are thermal shock resistant and are unlikely to experience crack over time due to its exuberate finishing.

Provide evidence that this technology works.

A case study of the use and success of the proposed innovation has been proved by Rwanda's National Cooling Initiative which clearly demonstrated the ability of high-tech rural industries to take root once farmers are enabled to collectively preserve and sell high standard produce over longer time periods rather than losing half of their harvest to spoilage.

As a fast-growing nation, Rwanda understood that through energy-efficient cold chains, local food production could be achieved at the farmers level thus assuring nationwide food security. Additional impacts were seen in reduced food losses, addressed spikes in electricity demand and increased farmers income.

YouTube Video:

Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Ancestral Technology & Practices
  • Internet of Things
  • Software and Mobile Applications

What is your theory of change?

ACTIVITY 1: Cold Storage Facility activity in market


- Pastoralists use cooling to preserve meat and milk (either individually or as a group)

- Livestock traders save profit margins as no longer need to rush to sell to brokers before sunset

-Butcheries and Slaughterhouses are added to Live market value chain 


- Spoilage rates reduce and perishable produce can be preserved for a longer period of time

- Small holder pastoralists are able to negotiate better prices with purchasers

- Increased number of people employed in newly created butcheries, local abattoirs etc.


- Reduced spoilage of meat & dairy

- Increased income of Pastoralists

-Increased Financial Independence in pastoral Women


- Reduction in % of reject meat

- Reduction in % of dairy produce loss

- Increase in % of high-value market sale

- % increase in revenue for traders

- % increase in women involved in dairy trading

ACTIVITY 2: Mini-grid Electrification in Community


- Residents surrounding the infrastructure start using electricity for lighting and equipment operation

- Small business establishments i.e salons/barbers due to availability of an efficient energy source

- Paraffin & Diesel is used less after installing a 15kWp solar generation system


- Increased quality of life in households and businesses

-Women and Youth become principle wage earners through SME operations

- Reduced Indoor Air pollution for infants and elderly


- Increased employment opportunities from energy operations

- Increased literacy and numeracy in households & schools

- Reduced carbon emissions


- % increase in women involved in SME activity 

- % increase in the number of electricity users

- % estimate of tCo2e avoided through PV generation


Select the key characteristics of your target population.

  • Women & Girls
  • Rural
  • Peri-Urban
  • Low-Income
  • Middle-Income
  • Minorities & Previously Excluded Populations

Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?

  • 2. Zero Hunger
  • 5. Gender Equality
  • 7. Affordable and Clean Energy
  • 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities

In which countries do you currently operate?

  • Kenya

In which countries will you be operating within the next year?

  • Botswana
  • Kenya

How many people does your solution currently serve? How many will it serve in one year? In five years?


In Mid 2019, Tree_Sea.mals implemented a 1kWp PV prototype in Meru that records energy consumption trends within 16 off-grid consumers. The project, funded by the Tony Elumelu Foundation has since received global recognition from the Royal Academy of Engineering through its Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation.


Target Community: Merille Livestock Centre

Population: 2,600 people

Target Market: 80 Households ; 30 Businesses ; 10 Institutions

Primary Loads: Boreholes, Health Centre, Schools, Administrative post, Mosque

Volumes of Trade per month: 6,700 goats trading each @ Ksh. 720- 1,100

Capacity of Storage room: 25,000kg per day

Target Age Groups: 52% (18-29years), 44% (30-64years), 4% (over 65years)

Target Gender:59% male, 41% female

Major tribes: Rendile, Borana, Turkana

ARPU/month: Households 5.6%, Businesses 8.9%, Institutions 5.4%

Consumer Income per month: 52% earn £100- 350; 18% earn £350-550; 9% earn over £550; 21% are unemployed


Over the last 2 years, through consistent research and prototyping, the organisation has developed a franchise model involving hybrid solar mini-grid and cold storage technology models. The 5MW decentralised project is aimed to launch in phases from Demonstration to Scale-Up. Over 50 hybrid units are to be commissioned to impact 57,400 consumers across Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Botswana within a 7year ramp period.

What are your goals within the next year and within the next five years?

Replication Model: Franchise hybrid units to local developers

 Location: Kenya, Botswana, Rwanda, Ethiopia

 Scope: This will range within 8,200 off-takers that base an average of 57,400 people in 50 centres within the East and Southern African Community

Project Budget: Considering price per connection, distribution and kW; the interconnected value of rural mini- grid electricity provision to 50 markets reaching 57,400 consumers would be set at $ 5M

Expected IRR: Internal Rate of Return (pre-tax) would be 14%

Timeline: The project would require a result-based approach and approximately have a 5year timeline with each construction/expansion being implemented within 10month periods.

Multiple Gird Management: Multiple circuits per meter minimize cost per connection and could be properly managed across various borders with the following customization;

  • Mobile Money aggregation with varying locally existing SIM provider, this will be especially flexible within the East African region
  • Data Platforms to automate tracking of power and energy data streams from various locations
  • Security through theft detection integration within cloud-connected smart meters and monitors and server access via key only
  • Tariff engines that support an unlimited range of tariff models across various jurisdictions
  • Operation & Management algorithms developed from best practices acquired within partnerships from utility scale project

What barriers currently exist for you to accomplish your goals in the next year and in the next five years?

RISK 1: Limited experience in the cold storage value chain

Since inception, Tree_Sea.mals has focused its experience on developing solar energy infrastructure, our technical expertise are more inclined towards the design and operation of the mini-grid rather than that of the cooling technology. This limitation of knowledge and technical experience to cold storage facilities might pose a high risk in operations.


RISK 2: Lack of Expert & Equipment availability in case of unexpected technical failure

Most of our target markets will be located in peri-urban / rural markets located off major highways and posts. The semi-arid terrains are rough and impassable during heavy rain seasons due to Seasonal river tributaries that terrain through the roads. This risk might cause long periods of power outages and prove fatal in emergency situations.

How do you plan to overcome these barriers?


This risk is mitigated by introducing expert advisory from credible partners interested in guiding the due diligence, design, engineering and maintenance process of the energy-efficient Cold Rooms. Examples of viable partners in Nairobi are Inspira Farms, W.Giertsen, Solar Freeze etc. 


The availability of standby technicians and spare parts will be critical to long term success, as well as the involvement of users in O&M. In our mitigation, the installation of the systems would be integrated with ongoing Maintenance incentives which would be put in place to encourage community beneficiaries to become skilled workers for the company.

About Your Team

What type of organization is your solution team?

For-profit, including B-Corp or similar models

If you selected Other, please explain here.


How many people work on your solution team?

Tree_Sea.mals Ltd. is currently run by a Working board, where the highly-ranked team members i.e the CEO, CTO and CFO implement the organisation's mission with a more hands-on approach to administrative functions.

The board often hires paid staff during contractual & in-house projects and is reliant on partnering with key industry players for quality implementation.

To date, we have;

  • 3 permanent employees each earning middle wage salaries
  • 10 casual employees who are employed on a contractual basis
  • 30% of the roles being assigned to women (mandatory minimum)
  • 75% of all employees are youths between ages 22 -35

How many years have you worked on your solution?

2years 4months

Why are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

Name: Tracy Kimathi

Role: Founder

Education: BSc. Environmental Science

Work: Over the last 2 years, she has established early footprint recognition in her Involvement in management, development and fundraising of regional mini-grid projects that support sustainable development.


  • Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation 2020
  • Shortlist Invest2Impact 2Xinitiative challenge winner
  • Tony Elumelu Foundation Alumni

Name: Hillary Chesebe

Role: Lead Engineer

Education: B.Sc Electrical and Electronic Engineering

Work: Eng. Hillary, assumes the technical lead on all projects assembled within the organization. He has strengths in solar design, installation, and monitoring of over 30 renewable off-grid technologies.

Holder of 6 highly recognised certifications including;

  • Power Quality Professional (Fluke Corporation)
  • Solar PV Projects Developer (GIZ)
  • Registered Graduate Engineer (Engineers Board of Kenya)
  • Electrical Work & Construction Site Supervisor (National Construction Authority)

Name: Helen Mburu

Role: Financial Lead

Education: MSc. Global Business Sustainability

Work: Helen assumes control of all financial cash flows and accounts for the sustainable management and supervision of revenue streams, taxes, book keeping and any other monetary-related activity in the company.

Name: Allistair Murray

Role: Advisor

Experience: Alistair has extensive experience of business strategy, leadership and negotiation having achieved successful market development, team building and change implementation across a variety of sectors. He is the ex Chairman of the Chartered Institute of Marketing in Scotland and he currently serves as Managing Director of VE Energy Ltd (renewables), Director of Big Box Network Ltd (film) and Proprietor of Atlantic Consultants Ltd (strategic consulting).

What organizations do you currently partner with, if any? How are you working with them?

Partnerships for our Goals has been a key mission unto which deemed necessary due to Tree_Sea.mals’ Early-Stage experience within the African agricultural sector, these partners will provide project based expertise in the following ways;

KNIGHTS ENERGY - specialists in project engineering and construction management therefore adding value throughout on-site implementation (

WINGS OF EMPOWERING PASTORALISTS (Kenya)- advisory in rural energy access and will aid in site identification, capacity building and localised technical training (

SPARK METER - an IoT company that provides both software and hardware elements of the project's smart metering and monitoring elements. This will aid in Mobile Payment and Micro-processing data acquisition. (

Your Business Model & Funding

What is your business model?

Key Asset & Activities
  • Solar Generation Unit
  • Off-grid battery storage
  • Cold Storage Facility
  • Smart Meters, Monitors and Sensors
  • Human Resources (expert, casual & skilled)
Value Addition
  • Cooling as a Service
  • Flexible PAY-GO Payment Plans
  • Privatised Operational Excellence
  • Smart Metering and Remote Monitoring I.T
  • Renewable Technologies
  • Productive Energy Use synergies with Women & Youth groups
  • Sustainable provision of energy
Persona Groups

persona 1: MICRO-GRID customers

  • Households
  • Kiosks
  • Schools
  • Dispensaries
  • Boreholes
  • Administrative Posts

persona 2: COLD-STORE customers

  • Milk traders 
  • Meat traders
  • Livestock Brokers
  • Small-scale Pastoralist
  • Kenya Meat Commission Sustainable Meat Consumers in Regional & International Cities
Consumer PAINS
  • Time spent collecting fuel
  • High cost of energy to provide efficient services after sunset
  • Money lost from meat & dairy spoilage
  • Over-reliance on middle-men for aggregation and trade
  • Lack of direct access to markets
Consumer GAINS
  • Close proximity of energy source
  • Availability of distributed electricity for optimal use during both day and night
  • Prolonged lifespan of produce
  • aggregation point of meat and dairy communal stock
  • Improved hygiene and quality standards of handling areas
Customer Relationship
  • Active Mobile Messaging & Communication
  • 15hrs/7day Physical Service Shop
  • Public Participation Gatherings
  • Online Customer Support
Promotion Channels in Communities 
  • Word of Mouth 
  • Door to Door Awareness campaigns   
  • Education delivery in local businesses and institutions    
Purchase of Cooling and Electricity Service 
  • Pay-As-You-Go Mobile services
  • Smart Metering system 
  • Token acquisition from Physical Service Shop
Market Opportunity
  • Provide 1 million pastoralists with access to communal refrigeration
  • Connect 200,000 African consumers to electricity
  • Develop 50 renewable cooling units across East & Southern Africa

Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, or to other organizations?

Individual consumers or stakeholders (B2C)
Partnership & Prize Funding Opportunities

Why are you applying to Solve?

1. Technical Assistance

The 9 months Personalised support program will be sure to provide the organisation with committed partners to support our team with rapid prototyping, strategic advisory services, and ongoing communication and feedback to help us refine our business models and scale.

2. Funding

By leveraging financing partnerships with the MIT SOLVE donor funds, African developers like myself are able to accelerate efficiency within our innovation projects through rapid prototyping, strategic advisory and overall Benchmarking.

3. Inter-regional Networking

Additionally, the Finalist Pitch event in NYC would act as a great platform to showcase my findings on how international cities could access well preserved meat produce from indigenous African pastoralists and how the cohesion of both Sustainable Cities and Sustainable communities, within the global economy, could help impact Urban Climatic Action.

In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?

  • Business model
  • Funding and revenue model
  • Board members or advisors
  • Marketing, media, and exposure

Please explain in more detail here.

Board members

Tree_Sea.mals Ltd. is actively looking for non-executive and executive board members that could help in strategising scale up. If SOLVE could link us with industry players who can provide active, long-term membership within our social enterprise, this would strengthen the management team and enhance the quality of decision-making processes. 

Marketing & Exposure

Digital Marketing is a fairly new media of advertising and due to the innovative aspects of our product, we wish to learn how to leverage on social media. One large issue that I hope could be solved through digital marketing is Target Audience specification. Our technology is relatively new in the market and has a high price range i.e. $10,000 - $30,000 thus a very specific clientel base spread across varying East and Southern African countries.

What organizations would you like to partner with, and how would you like to partner with them?

MIT engineering faculty

MIT is known globally for its School of Engineering and the faculties gravitation towards solving complex global problems. We would leverage this team for technical assistance in adopting the cooling structures to the hybrid mini-grids and design an efficient way for the technology to maintain optimal temperatures despite their intended semi-arid environments.

Cold Storage Manufacturer in the States

For supply of technology at manufactures rate. One of our largest challenges is finding a product manufacturer that could supply us with high quality and affordable solar powered cold rooms in the sizes 10', 20' and 40' in which we could operate optimally in warmer regions. i.e Thermoking / eNow

SOLVE African alumni

Cold Hubs is one of the few African owned infrastructure companies within the region's agricultural sector. Nnaemeka, the CEO would act as an exemplary figure to offer strategic advisory and mentorship during the 9month period.

Solution Team

  • Tracy Kimathi Founder , Tree_Sea.mals Ltd.
to Top