Dysmus Kisilu

2019 MIT D-Lab Scale-Ups Fellow; Founder and CEO, Solar Freeze

Dysmus Kisilu is the founder and CEO of Solar Freeze, a Kenya-based enterprise started in 2016 that offers mobile cold storage units powered by renewable energy to help rural smallholder farmers and displaced communities reduce post-harvest losses. Dysmus was a 2019 MIT D-Lab Scale-Ups Fellow. The Scale-Ups programme was a global accelerator working with local entrepreneurs to bring poverty-alleviating products and services to emerging markets at scale. It ran from 2012 through 2019 and received support from Community Jameel in its first three years.

Post-harvest losses are as high as 80% in many parts of the developing world, and the cold‐storage chain is virtually non‐existent due to the high cost of equipment and limited electricity. Because fresh produce can perish in a matter of days under ambient temperatures, temperature control alone can extend the shelf life by weeks or even months. Similarly, refugee camps in Kenya lack sufficient energy infrastructure to store food or medicines. Dysmus has worked with smallholder farmers in Eastern Kenya to increase their crop yield by innovating a simple 'pay-as-you-store' model, which allows farmers to pay as little as USD 0.1 to store perishable produce such as fruits and vegetables inside the portable solar cold rooms.

In 2018, Solar Freeze began work in Kakuma refugee camp, a settlement of approximately 200,000 people, where access to clean and affordable energy is extremely limited. There, the technology is used by small enterprises and clinics to store products as well as vaccines. The company offers an accessible payment model allows users to pay a daily amount for the freezer until it is owned outright and also provides training targeted at young people and women to develop skills and find jobs in the renewable energy sector. In this vein, Dysmus founded the 'Each One, Teach One - Train and Earn' initiative to build a next generation of leaders pushing for renewable energy for agriculture in Africa.

More recently, Solar Freeze has partnered with MIT D-Lab researchers led by Eric Verploegen to pilot their new design for an air-forced evaporative cooling chamber in order to validate the design and make it widely and freely available through an open-source website. In 2021, the company won an Ashden Award for its climate solution and positive impact. Dysmus himself was a 2018 Echoing Green climate fellow, a member of the inaugural Obama Foundation class and an MIT Technology Access Inclusive Innovation winner. He holds two degrees in renewable energy, solar technology and agriculture from University of California, Davis.

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