Solar powered walk-in cold rooms for artisanal fish clusters in coastal communities of Nigeria's Niger-Delta Region.
Small scale artisanal fishing, fish production, processing and trading is the major economic activity in coastal communities within the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria. In these communities there are several coastal fresh fish and other aquatic food markets; and upland markets, where smoked fish and crayfish are sold in commercial quantities.
According to the FAO, an estimated 6,000 tons of fish are harvested by ocean trawlers and artisanal fishermen everyday in the Niger-Delta, of which only about 2,000 tons are sold fresh.
Since most of the communities are off the national grid, there are no cold storage facilities available, as such most unsold fish are quickly smoked to avoid spoilage. This significantly reduces the income of fisherfolk, fish farmers, wholesalers and retailers, as fresh fish has more financial returns than smoked fish.
Our solution, ColdHubs, are modular, 100% solar-powered walk-in cold rooms, which provides 24/7 off-grid refrigeration for the storage and preservation of fresh fish and other aquatic food. The Hubs will be installed in 4 fish markets at Itu Fresh Fish Market, Akwa Ibom State, Kaa Fish Market in Tai Local Government Area of Rivers State, Nembe-Brass Fresh Fish Cluster in Bayelsa State and Ilaje Community Fish Market, Ondo State, within the reach of artisanal fishermen, wholesalers and retailers. Fresh fish will be placed in raffia bags. These bags will be stacked on stainless aluminum shelves inside the cold room. Cold room temperature, which is set permanently at -5°C, extends the shelf life of fish to about 21 days instead of 1 day without refrigeration.
The key benefits of ColdHubs to artisanal fishermen, wholesalers and retailers in coastal communities are:
a. Eliminating all forms of fresh fish spoilage completely, while making more safe, nutritious fish available for consumption.
b. Increases the household income of small scale artisanal fishermen, wholesalers and retailers, because spoilage has been eliminated and production cost is reduced.
c. Creates employment for women, by recruiting and training them to work as ColdHub Operators and Market Attendants in the markets.
Watch our elevator pitch:
Where our solution team is headquartered or located:Owerri, Imo State, Nigeria
The dimensions of the Challenge our solution addresses:
What makes our solution innovative:
ColdHubs is innovative because its is exclusively powered by solar panels, using energy efficient monoblock refrigerating unit with natural refrigerants to minimize the environmental impact of cooling. This eliminates the need for grid or diesel generators to power cold storage for the first time.
Our pay-as-you-store US$1 per bag, business model is equally innovative. It meets the harvest and income of small scale artisanal fishermen and women. A 20 kg bag of fresh bonga fish is sold for about US$20, due to lack of cold storage, dealers sell the same 20kg bag at give away prices of between US$8-10.
How technology is integral to our solution:
ColdHubs is a solar powered walk-in cold room, specially designed to operate 100% off the grid.
The technology is a perfect fit for our solution because, the high cost of running generators and lack of sustainable alternatives is a significant obstacle to economic diversification in the Niger Delta.
ColdHubs harnesses the enormous potentials of renewable energy to power cold storage, guaranteeing uninterrupted and less expensive method of storing and preserving fish and aquatic food, as artisanal fisheries is the primary economic activity of the local population.
Our solution goals over the next 12 months:
ColdHubs goals over the next 12 months is to deploy atleast 4 solar powered walk-in cold rooms in 4 fish markets within the Niger-Delta region benefiting atleast 200 artisanal fishermen and women in the region, within the first 12 months of installation and commissioning.
Our vision over the next three to five years to grow and scale our solution to affect the lives of more people:
Once use of ColdHubs for fresh fish storage has been achieved, over the next 12 months; we will commence significant scaling within Nigeria targeting 100,000 fishermen within the next 3 to 5 years. This will be achieved through the design, installation and commissioning of atleast 500 ColdHubs in fish communities, clusters and markets across the Niger-Delta region.
Our promotional video:
The key characteristics of the populations who will benefit from our solution in the next 12 months:
The regions where we will be operating in the next 12 months:
How we will reach and retain our customers or beneficiaries:
We will reach and retain our customers leveraging on partnerships with the Artisanal Fish Dealers Market Unions in our 4 targeted markets of deployment. The market unions will inform and educate fisher men and women on the benefits, savings and additional income accrued to them through the use of ColdHubs in the markets. We have already reached out to them in the 4 markets we wish to deploy ColdHubs and presently developing a mutually beneficial Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
How many people we are currently serving with our solution:
ColdHubs is presently serving 320 smallholder farmers, retailers and wholesalers, who are using our 5 operational Hubs at Relief Market Owerri, Orlu Central Market, General Good Daily Market, Obowo all in Imo State and Kura Farmers Settlement Kano at the moment.
Our 5 operational ColdHubs has saved 5,722 tons of food from spoilage and increased the income of our 320 users from US$60 to US$120 per month, just by eliminating previous food spoilage they were experiencing.
How many people we will be serving with our solution in the 12 months and the next 3 years:
We expect atleast 100 artisanal fishermen and women will be using each ColdHub within 12 months of deployment. That is 400 users using 4 ColdHubs in 12 months.
In 3 years we expect this number to significantly increase to atleast 200 artisanal fishermen and women using each ColdHub. That is atleast 800 users, using the 4 ColdHubs.
How our solution team is organized:For-Profit
How many people work on our solution team:14
How many years we have been working on our solution:5-10 years
The skills our solution team has that will enable us to attract the different resources needed to succeed and make an impact:
Our team has extensive knowledge in smallholder agribusiness, rural logistics, distribution, business processes and technical skills in clean energy, solar cells, batteries, air conditioning, cold room design, and refrigeration. We have clear roles, responsibilities, and time commitments needed to be successful. We have diverse professional background as such, we are able to quickly identify and respond to challenges that are likely to arise as the project is being implemented.
Our revenue model:
We operate a simple pay-as-you-store revenue model. Fishermen, wholesalers and retailers pay 300 Nigerian Naira (equivalent of US$1.00) to store one 20kg bag of fresh fish per day. All Hubs are owned by ColdHubs Ltd and operated by a lady manager, who monitors the loading and unloading of the fish bags, collects user fees, and builds relationships in the market.
Our revenue model is positions us for long term sustainability and profitability because it meets the income, harvest, lifestyle and behavior of small scale artisanal fisher men and women. Normally, a 20 kg bag of fresh bonga fish is sold for about US$20 and above during the peak harvest period and from US$40 and above during the off-peak period.
Due to lack of storage facilities in the market, fishermen, wholesalers and retailers are forced to sell the same 20kg bag at give away prices of between US$8-10 during the peak season and US$10-15 off-peak period. This is a significant loss.
Why we are applying to Solve:
We are applying to Solve, to showcase the ColdHubs advantage as a technology and service to store and preserve fish and other aquatic food, while building economic opportunities for coastal communities. We anticipate that our application will receive validation comments from the Solve community, refine our deployment approach based on feedback received from the Solve community, network with interested individuals and companies and possible receive funding to advance our work.
The key barriers for our solution:
The key barrier for our technology's success is attracting equipment financing to deploy more units within rural communities. There is also the challenge of daily management of cash, as a cash based business. We will like Solve to connect us to funding opportunities and impact investors.
The types of connections and partnerships we would be most interested in if we became Solvers:
- Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu CEO, ColdHubs Ltd