Evaptainers

Evaptainers creates affordable, electricity-free refrigerators that run on water. They are ideal for low-income off-grid areas.

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I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.

  • Yes, I'm eligible

Preferred language

  • English

Organization name

Evaptainers

Year founded

2015

Initiative stage

  • Start-Up (a pilot that has just started operating)

Annual budget in 2017 (USD)

  • $10k - $50k

Number of beneficiaries impacted so far

  • 10 - 50

Organization type

  • Social enterprise

Secondary Focus Area

  • Rural development
  • Nutrition

Headquarters location: Country

  • United States of America

Headquarters location: City

Boston, MA

Location(s) of impact

Morocco: Ifrane, Ouarzazate, Had Lbrachoua

Website

www.evaptainers.com

Facebook URL

https://www.facebook.com/evaptainers/

Twitter URL

https://twitter.com/evaptainers

Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?

In developing countries, refrigeration can be both expensive and inaccessible. Lack of refrigeration is one of the causes of high spoilage rates, something which is financially devastating for the rural poor. Difficulties in refrigeration prevent farmers from reaching end-markets. It deprives families of hard-earned money, and lastly, can lead to long term health and nutrition problems. The UN estimates post-harvest losses as high as 45% for fruits/vegetables, with a total loss of $4 billion dollars in Africa annually.

Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?

Our company has developed a low-cost, solution for food preservation. Using a specialized synthetic fabric, we harness the phenomenon of evaporative cooling to preserve fruits and vegetables stored inside without using any electricity at all. Our first product, the “EV-8”, is a lightweight and collapsible evaporative cooler. It is the world’s first commercializable “zero-energy” (requiring absolutely no external electricity) refrigeration device, ideal for low-income, off-grid areas. Evaporative cooling as a technique has been employed successfully for centuries in products like the Pot-in-Pot refrigerator or Coolgardie safe. Proven to be effective for cooling at the point of production, these devices have been known to triple or quadruple the shelf-life of most perishables. Using state-of-the art materials and improved design, we’ve created a more effective and scalable clean energy refrigeration solution, enabling the cold chain to reach farther than ever before.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work

We’ve gotten the opportunity work in Morocco for over 2 years and ask families for their advice on improving our device. Our families live off-grid near the Atlas Mountains or near the desert in Ouarzazate. Before receiving our prototypes, families often spent hours travelling to the nearest town for food and groceries. Since receiving the units, beneficiaries changed their habits to buying more food in bulk and having it last longer, allowing them to spend more time with their family and take care of their farm. On average, families reported a savings of 10% of their monthly income and noticed huge improvements in quality of life. Our environmental impact will be better quantified after our larger pilot test, but generally, our units help the environment by: reducing electricity usage compared to conventional fridges, reducing greenhouse gases by not emitting any HCFCs and lastly, reducing greenhouse gasses by reducing food spoilage.

Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?

Presently, we’ve been supported through grants from USAID and awards from business plan competitions. In the long term, we would achieve financial sustainability through mass production and lowering production costs. Our goal is to produce our units for around $10 at scale, giving us roughly a 3x margin between our production costs and eventual sale price to account for overhead. While this is not a huge margin, it would allow us to operate. Meanwhile, we would open up a secondary product line for campers and outdoor enthusiasts in high-end markets like the United States, which would return a more traditional 4x or 5x margin. This higher return would allow us to expand our developing world operations, which would in turn lower our COGs further through higher production volumes.

Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?

Our unique value proposition is definitely our price point. While other alternative-refrigeration technologies - Promethean Power, SunDanzer, SunChill, Coolify - can cost thousands of dollars to build and install, our units are small, portable and will retail between US$25 and US$35, making them affordable even at the smallholder farmer level. Furthermore, the Evaptainer EV-8 is designed to be flat-packed and light-weight, allowing for easy transport worldwide.

Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.

I initially came up with the idea at an MIT class called “Development Ventures.” During the very first lecture, our professor challenged everyone to come up with a business solution that “could benefit at least 1 billion people.” Obviously, this dare was meant to provoke and stimulate out-of-the-box ideas; so, I thought of my own experience working in developing countries and thought about the high costs of food spoilage for producers and consumers. I also thought of my travels throughout the world, where I witnessed traditional devices, such as Zeer Pots, used successfully to address spoilage. My “aha!” moment was realizing that in Boston (and at MIT) there had to be high-tech materials that could enhance and modernize these traditional devices so that they could be used by more people.

Where did you hear about the Nestlé Creating Shared Value Prize?

  • Other

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Photo of Julie Curtis

I had no idea 45% of food in Africa goes to waste! I live in Benin, West Africa and could absolutely see the importance of this project, particularly for villages far away from a market who suffer greatly from malnutrition. In Benin, half of all kids under the age of 5 are stunted due to malnutrition. A product such as this one would definitely curb that percentage. How are you reaching out to rural communities? Would you be able to do a payment plan for those who cannot cover the cost up front?

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