Sun Fire Cooking

We put people and the environment before profit


About us

Bosaso, Somalia, revised January 2005


Sun Fire Cooking is in the business of importing and selling solar cookers to families in east Africa as an environmentally and economically sound alternative to the use of charcoal for family cooking.


Sun Fire Cooking will imports fast-cooking, cost-effective solar cookers from China to east Africa. Our business concept is a win-win solution for all: the households, the environment and our company.



Sun Fire Cooking envisions rural and urban communities in east Africa working to protect and reclaim the land for future generations. We can see a future when environmentally friendly alternative solar energy replaces charcoal for family cooking.



To help reduce the devastating cutting of trees for charcoal, Sun Fire Cooking will encourage families in Somalia and east Africa to use solar instead of destroying forests for cooking fuel.



We will revolutionize the culture of cooking by families in east Africa by promoting the use of a solar cooker design that is affordable, sturdy, quick and easy to use.


Sun Fire Cooking will be the first environmentally responsible small business in Somalia. It will aim to be a model for how to grow a business that benefits the environment and makes a profit.


Working Principles


The Market

Households in Somalia and much of east Africa, urban and rural, rely on charcoal and firewood for daily cooking. Somalia and east Africa have fewer and fewer trees for charcoal and firewood. To protect fragile pasture land, some pastoral communities in Somalia are prohibiting the cutting of trees. Lower income families in Somalia spend 20 - 30% of their income on charcoal for cooking. Charcoal is becoming more scarce and therefore more expensive.


In Somalia and many parts of east Africa, the sun shines almost every day. However, efficient solar cookers are not available.


The size of the East African market is potentially gigantic as the conditions which make Somalia such an attractive place for solar cooking, lots of sun and scarce and expensive alternative fuel sources, apply to large areas of Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Yemen and parts of Kenya, Tanzania and Sudan.


One area where we plan to market solar cookers are refugee camps in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Sudan. Refugee camps generate a tremendous need for fuel for cooking that leads to logistical and environmental problems. Artificial settlements of large numbers of people due to conflict cause extensive environmental damage. There is an urgent need for the introduction of efficient, fast cooking, cost effective solar cookers in these settlements.


The Product

Despite the need and the size of the potential market, solar cookers are not in use in east Africa due to the lack of suitable design. After five years of research, the founders of Sun Fire Cooking located an appropriate solar cooker, which is manufactured in China.


In 2003, the founders of Sun Fire Cooking introduced this fast-cooking, easy to use solar cooker from China as a field test. The fourteen demonstration models were snapped up by households in the town of Bosaso with no advertising such word ofmouth.


Everyone in Bosaso who bought the solar cooker is extremely satisfied. (See interviews, follow the links from Sun Fire Cooking's home page). Their friends, families and neighbors are eager to buy their own solar cookers Households using the solar cooker recovered their costs in less than one year through savings in the reduced purchase of charcoal.


Description of the Solar Cooker

The cooker marketed by Sun Fire Cooking uses a large parabolic mirror to focus the heat. It is the only design which people actually like to use, with a heat output similar to that of a charcoal stove. Other competing designs are slow.


The solar cookers are sturdy and stable, weighing approximately 80 kg. The mirrors are made of cast iron coated with a durable (and repairable) reflective aluminum tape. Other components, including the wheels, are made of iron. There is an easy screw mechanism to adjust the tilt of the mirror.


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Cultural and Financial Challenges to Market Entry

Many east African households think in terms of daily needs. Households are not accustomed to calculating their costs and making a purchase that will be economically advantageous in the long run. In the case of the solar cooker, the period of cost recovery is less than 12 months.


In Somalia, many households live on monthly remittances and do not have enough capital to make a large purchase. Sun Fire Cooking would encourage potential buyers from low income households to obtain credit for the purchase. The solar cooker itself could be used as collateral and the payback time is less than 12 months.



The Team


Fatima Jibrell: CEO. Fatima is founder and former head of Horn Relief and Development Organization which has worked since 1991 for the improvement of pastoral peoples' lives in the northeast region of Somalia. She is the winner of the Goldman Environmental prize (considered to be the environmental Nobel Prize) in 2002 for her work, in particular, for her efforts to stop the Somali charcoal trade. Fatima has been working in the area of natural resource management in Somalia since 1994.


James Lindsay: CTO, Chief Technical Officer. James has worked as a senior Australian diplomat in many developing countries throughout the world. While posted in Nairobi, Kenya, he was Australia's Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). Since retiring from the Australian foreign service, he has worked for a number of organizations including Horn Relief.


Li Anping: Representative in China. Anping is a former professor of Mechanical Engineering at Beijing Technical University. He has a good knowledge of the business and government environment in China. He lives in Beijing.


Environmental Benefits


Additional benefits of solar cookers will be in increased environmental awareness of the urban population in Somalia and the visibility of a viable business concept based on sound business and environmental principles that will also invest in educational innovation in pastoral areas.


Sun Fire Cooking takes into account the environmental and social benefits as well as profits. A small investment in solar cookers can bring a quick return in terms of halting the degradation of the fragile Somali environment.


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