Meet the pioneering entrepreneurs bringing clean energy to rural Uganda

February 6, 2024

In Uganda, only 19% of rural communities have access to electricity, and less than 2% enjoy modern cooking facilities. Instead of leaning into fossil fuels, these communities have an opportunity to leapfrog to safe clean energy.

New Energy Nexus has championed clean energy entrepreneurs longer than any other accelerator in Uganda. ENVenture, a program run by New Energy Nexus Uganda, has significantly contributed to addressing the energy access gap in off-grid communities.

These last-mile communities form an integral part of our global network of clean energy entrepreneurs, working towards achieving 100% clean energy for 100% of the population. Our mission also includes reducing the depletion of Uganda’s forest cover, which has decreased at a rate of 13% since 2000. This is achieved by supporting last-mile energy entrepreneurs who promote the adoption of various clean cooking technologies.

In Uganda, we’re empowering hundreds of Community Based Organizations (CBOs) through financial support, skill development, and innovative mobile technology solutions. Since 2016 we’ve supported:
  • 190+ Community Based Organizations and VSLAs
  • benefiting 127,000 people
  • creating 1,000+ jobs
  • and saving income of  US$4 million. 

Our award-winning model harnesses the untapped power of Community Based Organizations (CBOs) and Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs) to incubate clean energy entrepreneurs. These CBOs provide many essential services – supporting better health, education, sanitation and work for local people. Since we started operating in Uganda in 2016, we learned very quickly that these organizations have the networks, trust, and community reputation to bring new technologies, such as solar lighting, water filters, briquettes and clean energy cookstoves to rural villages.

Hundreds of entrepreneurs are part of the quiet clean energy transition taking place in Uganda’s last-mile and refugee communities. Let’s meet some of them…
Meet the heroes of Uganda’s

Beatrice Kitaliraba is an enthusiastic shopkeeper hired by Utopia, a Community-Based Organization(CBO) in Kyenjojo. Beatrice educates potential customers how solar lamps can be beneficial for their businesses.

Utopia, backed by an energy startup loan from our ENVenture program, aims to enhance access to affordable clean energy products in their communities. The CBO is actively promoting the adoption of these products, particularly to extend working hours for rural women entrepreneurs who rely on affordable lighting for their businesses. Utopia’s clean energy store offers a range of products, including solar lanterns and improved cookstoves.

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Meet David Kamoomo, a 46-year-old entrepreneur who runs a poultry business in Nsinde. In the past, he faced challenges in providing adequate light for his birds, resorting to kerosene lamps, flashlights, and candles as the only available options. Recognizing the potential dangers and high costs associated with these methods, David sought an alternative solution.

Kitara Community Seed Bank, one of our entrepreneurial partners, offered David a solar loan product. This alternative not only addressed the safety concerns but also proved to be a cost-effective and sustainable solution for illuminating his poultry house. David, now equipped with solar-powered lighting, has experienced significant energy savings, allowing him to reinvest in and expand his poultry business.

Meet Karungi Annet, a 36-year-old homemaker and mother of three, demonstrating the use of a Lorena stove. Trained by Utopia, a startup from our ENVenture program, Karungi was inspired by the success of their cookstove business. Responding to numerous requests from the community for an alternative cookstove suitable for preparing local dishes, Utopia introduced this improved traditional outdoor cookstove. Efficient and safe, it aims to address the specific cooking needs of the community.

Karungi attests to the positive impact, noting a reduction in her cooking time and experiencing less coughing compared to when she used her traditional three-stone cookstove.

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In Kyenjojo, Kizia Janet stands out as a local entrepreneur, catalyzing positive change through her flourishing solar business that specializes in solar lanterns and panels. Utopia provided essential support for her solar venture. Kizia embodies the impactful collaboration between local entrepreneurs and Community-Based Organizations. The solar products she offers serve as a clean and sustainable energy source, reducing reliance on traditional, environmentally harmful alternatives and elevating the overall quality of life for residents.

Well-lit homes, students studying after sunset, and businesses extending their operating hours are just a few of the tangible benefits. Moreover, Kizia’s solar business contributes to local economic empowerment by not only generating income but also fostering financial resilience within the community.

What energy access looks like in off-grid communities.

Meet John Male at his rural home, where he utilizes solar power to illuminate his living space. The lanterns he proudly owns were purchased from Utopia, a beneficiary of our ENVenture program in Nsinde, Kyenjojo, Uganda. In this photo, you can see John Male tending to his small farm at his rural home in Nsinde. In the background, a solar panel can be spotted on his roof.

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Christine Kimera uses the improved cookstove from Safeplan Uganda for her meals. She highlights the stove’s speed and efficiency, noting a significant reduction in the use of firewood. Christine also utilizes a solar lamp from Safe Plan Uganda to read the Bible to her grandchild in Katagurukwa, Masindi, Uganda. Her commitment to clean cooking and sustainable lighting reflects her dedication to a healthier and more environmentally conscious lifestyle.

New Energy Nexus is proud to be backing these entrepreneurs. Through affordable loan terms and hands-on support from our expert team on the ground, these entrepreneurs have successfully expanded their businesses, created jobs, boosted their income, and contributed to Uganda’s transition to clean energy.

Join us in bringing clean energy technologies to the heart of last mile communities.