"As a female founder, you find yourself at the forefront of a movement that seeks to redefine the norms and reshape the future of energy."- Tracy Kimathi

International Women’s Day is a global day dedicated to celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. Although each year is focused on a specific theme, the day marks a call to action to accelerate gender parity. This year’s theme is #InspireInclusion, a reminder that if we inspire others to understand and value women’s inclusion, we stand to forge a better world. In the spirit of calling for positive change advancing women while also celebrating key achievements, we are excited to share this special feature with you.

Tracy Kimathi is the Founder of BARIDI, a solar cold-storage provider focused on downstream consumption markets in the high-value meat and fishery value chain. Tracy was also the winner of KawiSafi’s inaugural ‘Gender 4 Climate’ Challenge which took place last year during Africa Climate Week. As the winner, BARIDI received grant support from the KawiSafi Technical Assistance Facility as well as investment readiness and legal support from our partners — the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF) and Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr Incorporated.

We got to learn more about her journey as an entrepreneur, how she navigates setbacks as a leader in the clean energy sector, and how her company embraces inclusion of women.

KSV: What inspired you to start BARIDI and why?

Our solar powered cold room idea started for two major reasons;

  1. A pivoting effort that was required from our original business plan that revolved around non-profitable mini grids. Solar Cold rooms proved to be in line with our productive energy case studies, and its timing within the ecosystem helped the smooth launch of the ‘PayStore’ business model.
  2. A clear need for preservation solutions in the highly neglected livestock sector. BARIDI played a pivotal role in introducing solarised cold-chain in the urban meat sector, one of its kind as most players at that time were looking into fruit and vegetable preservation. BARIDI has since evolved to be a fast moving, lead player in sub-zero technology development and is beginning to specialise in the highly perishable and higher value meat and fish sectors.

KSV: This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is #InspireInclusion; what does this mean to you?

Here’s what #InspireInclusion means for me specifically:

  1. Creating Opportunities: BARIDI actively seeks out and creates opportunities for women to enter and excel in the renewable energy sector. ​​BARIDI has majority woman ownership by shares (81%), woman-led with 57% of the 7 employees being women.
  2. Breaking Barriers: It means breaking down barriers that hinder women’s full engagement in the agribusiness industry.

KSV: Last year, KawiSafi Ventures with partners Dalberg and AECF, launched the ‘Gender 4 Climate’ challenge during Africa Climate Week where you emerged as a winner. How has this initiative impacted your business so far?

BARIDI has leveraged the support received from the KawiSafi Technical Assistance Facility and its partners to facilitate working capital for direct sale orders within our emerging B2B business model. Through this initiative, we have sustained the deployment of solar cold storage assets across Kenya’s agricultural ecosystem. This support has empowered us to expand our reach and impact within the market, enabling us to address critical needs in agricultural preservation and solar energy distribution. The investment readiness support received also assisted with identifying gaps in our financial modelling.


KSV: What is the biggest challenge you face as a female founder in the clean energy sector and how do you navigate it?

Imagine your team being a pioneer navigating uncharted territories in the clean energy sector, where innovation thrives and challenges abound. As a female founder, you find yourself at the forefront of a movement that seeks to redefine the norms and reshape the future of energy. Your journey is not without its hurdles. You encounter whispers of scepticism and doubt, remnants of outdated stereotypes that linger in the corridors of the industry. Yet, armed with unwavering passion and boundless determination, you forge ahead, undeterred by the barriers that seek to confine you.

KSV: Where do you hope to see BARIDI in the next 10 years?

In the next decade, I envision BARIDI expanding its operations across Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, South Africa, and Botswana. We aim to launch approximately 500 solar cold chain assets, thereby enhancing our capacity to serve various markets effectively. Additionally, we are focused on diversifying our revenue streams by incorporating both software and hardware models. Our primary goal is to significantly reduce post-harvest losses for millions of vendors operating within downstream consumption markets. This strategic approach aligns with our key performance indicators and underscores our commitment to sustainable growth and impact in the communities we serve.


KSV: What has been your greatest achievement?

My greatest achievement lies in mastering the art of storytelling throughout BARIDI’s pursuit of funding and resources. I craft compelling narratives that enchant the minds of investors and stakeholders, illustrating vibrant landscapes where renewable energy fuels a sustainable and innovative future, forging pathways to a brighter tomorrow.

KSV: Are there any areas of the city (Nairobi) that really inspire you?

Karura and Oloolua Nature Trails serve as inspiring destinations within the city, offering opportunities to unwind and enjoy picnics amidst nature’s beauty. Cultiva Farm stands out as a delightful farm-to-table restaurant where I often seek out delicious meals. For productive work sessions, Tin Café in Karen is my go-to spot, providing a conducive environment to focus and accomplish tasks.


KSV: What advice would you give to an upcoming female founder/ entrepreneur?

Ensure the revenue model works and have a good team to help deliver it.


About KawiSafi Ventures

KawiSafi Ventures (KSV) is a $70M fund investing in the most innovative companies unlocking the potential of distributed renewable energy across the continent. The Fund is supporting pioneering businesses deploying low carbon solutions across Africa. By building scalable solutions that demonstrate a better way to electrify Africa, the fund will contribute to solving energy poverty while helping to avert the long-term climate crisis. BARIDI was the winner of the inaugural ‘Gender 4 Climate’ Pitch Event hosted by KawiSafi Ventures in 2023 and received grant funding from the KawiSafi Technical Assistance Facility.