Kenyan innovator Purity Gakuo developed it to reduce post-harvest losses of fish and increase revenue for off-grid small-scale fisherwomen and fish traders. Kuza means "to empower”.
It can take up to three days for a monger to sell 30 kilograms of fresh fish. Without storage, traders are often forced to sell at US$2 per kilogram. By ensuring the fish stays fresher for longer, they can sell fish for up to US$5 per kilogram, more than doubling their income.
Kuza Freezer has a temperature range of -20 to 10°C and capacity to hold up to 150 kilograms of fresh fish.
Gakuo and her team source plastic pellets from local recyclers, then melt and mold them into the casing and lid of the Kuza Freezer. This accounts for 10kg of its 25kg weight. The device also has a compressor, cooling unit, charge controller, battery, and an aluminum base.
Kuza Freezer is offered on a rent-to-own basis, with customers paying US$2 per day for 15 months, after which ownership is transferred. Fish traders also save on operating costs because they no longer need to buy ice.
The device comes in fixed and mobile units. The fixed version gets installed at a customer’s premises, with the 300-watt solar panel on the roof. Users get technical training with the installation. While fixed, the freezer is also portable. When fully charged the 200 Amp gel battery can power the freezer for up to 24 hours and with the ice packs in the freezer, and the fish can stay at an optimal temperature for up to three days on cloudy days.
The freezer’s polyurethane insulation and zero-emissions refrigerant make it energy efficient and environmentally friendly. The battery is automatically disconnected when the unit reaches -20˚C.
Performance data is remotely monitored on the Kuza Freezer dashboard. It can be remotely switched off in instances of unapproved removal or lack of payment.
Kuza Freezer offers a payment system connected to the popular M-PESA mobile money transfer service. Customers are alerted by SMS about upcoming or delayed payments. The freezer is remotely turned on when payments are made.
The mobile versions of Kuza Freezer can be mounted on motorcycles or bicycles with an eight-hour pre-charged solar battery to enable the delivery of fresh fish from rural areas to the market.
By October 2023, Gakuo and her team had helped increase the income of 1,800 people.
Many fishers and traders are exploited for lower prices because they can’t store their catch. We are ensuring that this business practice is stopped and are helping people, specifically women, earn a living wage