New Energy Nexus has been supporting clean energy startups longer than any other accelerator in Uganda. What we find most exciting is the unique way in which we operate here, empowering entrepreneurs in off-the-grid communities.
New Energy Nexus Uganda’s model leverages the untapped potential of local Community Based Organizations (CBOs) and Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs) to incubate clean energy entrepreneurs and distribute clean energy technologies to last mile communities.
Furthermore, our program supports local entrepreneurs through financing, and capacity building such as bootcamps, mentoring and coaching, as well as cloud bookkeeping technology via our own ENVision software.
The CBOs provide many essential services – supporting better health, education, sanitation and work for local people. 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. That was the basis for our program in Uganda, ENVenture – a social enterprise that empowers rural distributors to start sustainable clean energy businesses – that started in 2016. ENVEnture became part of New Energy Nexus in 2020.
ENVenture is also an award winning program having won the Ashden Award for Energy Access Innovation’ at COP26 in 2021.
Read on to learn about some of the inspiring people we support in northern Uganda’s last mile and refugee communities.
Tampia Nyim Energy Cooperative (TECA) is an energy enterprise in the Kiryandongo refugee settlement in Uganda. With the support from the ENVenture program they were able to set up a clean energy kiosk selling a host of clean energy products to both refugees as well as others in their host communities. With the kiosk running successfully, Gabriel, one of the members of TECA, used part of the savings to build a permanent physical retail store beside the kiosk. Opening this store has not only given more refugees access to clean energy sources (often being their only source of energy), but the sales generated from the store also helps Gabierl provide for his family.
Harriet, another member of TECA who has been employed as the kiosk secretary, and is trusted with managing the day-to-day operations. Working here has turned her life around. Through the ENVenture program she was able to receive continued mentoring and coaching that has helped her upskill, and track sales and inventory. This job has given her the financial independence to provide for her family. Other than having the perks of being able to charge her phone at the kiosk for free, with her salary she has been able to purchase a solar kit to improve the quality of life at home and provide security for her family in the settlement.
“I now have the knowledge I did not have before. Now I own a solar kit that helps my children read at night, and we use it while eating food at night…’’ – Harriet, TECA member
A group of 22 refugees from the Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement, Cluster D, Ranch 37, in northern Uganda came together to form the Oribcing Energy Cooperative Association (OCECA). This refugee-led cooperative provides clean energy to their communities. Their products include solar lanterns, water purifiers, briquettes and cook stoves, and they offer phone charging services and sell cold beverages. . This is particularly important for those living in refugee settlements where access to electricity is limited. With the profits generated from selling these energy products and services, OCECA has invested in offering financial services to the community. Having been officially registered and acquiring an agent banking system, a point of sale (POS) device, OCECA is now empowered to offer banking services via a cost-effective route to serve its unbanked enterprising customers within their community, including offering access to loans.
An all-women team of 20 refugees set up the Lubanga Ngeyo Energy Cooperative (LNECA). Apart from managing and operating an energy kiosk that sells clean energy products like solar lanterns, briquettes and improved cookstoves, LNECA also offers financial agent banking services, phone and laptop charging services, and refrigeration services.
“Our kiosk is more than just an energy shop” – Joyce Achirokop, Chairperson, LNECA
Meet Abau Joyce, a mother of six who took a non-interest loan of UGX150,000 (US$40) from LNECA’s energy kiosk savings to set up a vegetable selling stall in the market near the kiosk. She also manages the energy kiosk, ensuring its daily operations run smoothly. Abau’s husband is unemployed, and without the kiosk, feeding her family would entirely depend on handouts. Thanks to the energy kiosk, Abau has a daily income, and her family can buy the food they need. The capital she required to set up and successfully run a vegetable business came from the savings and profits generated by the kiosk, offering her a level of financial independence.
Nangobi Sophia, a 38-year-old entrepreneur from Singila, had a dream of expanding her hair salon business. She knew that in order to achieve her goal, she needed to invest in new equipment. With the help of the ‘Energy for Productive Use’ (PUE) project, another initiative by our ENVenture program, that offers Appliance Financing Loans, Sophia was able to buy hair dryer equipment on loan, which she now uses to offer her customers a wider range of higher quality services
“I am grateful for the Appliance Financing Program because it has helped me to grow my business. Now I can offer my customers the best services using modern equipment, which has attracted more customers to my salon.” – Nangobi Sophia, Hair Salon Owner
Wanda Alex, is a young entrepreneur from Golofa. He recently acquired towel warmers and hair clippers through our PUE Appliance Financing Program, which has allowed him to expand the services he offers at his salon. Now, his customers can enjoy a variety of grooming services all in one place. With increased sales, Wanda is confident that he can continue to grow his business and attract even more customers to his salon.
Namudiba Aisha, a 34-year-old entrepreneur from Singila, had big dreams of starting her own fast food business selling fried chicken and chips. With the help of our PUE Appliance Financing Program, she was able to purchase a deep fryer to kickstart her venture. Now, Aisha can provide for her family while also sharing her love for food with her community.
Kaamu Obbo, a 24-year-old entrepreneur from Golofa has set up a new business selling popcorn. With the help of ENVenture’s PUE project initiative, Kaamu was able to acquire a popcorn machine on loan and start his business. He now sells fresh popcorn everyday to all the happy customers in his community, while also creating a steady source of income for himself.
New Energy Nexus is incredibly proud to support these entrepreneurs. With affordable loan terms and support from our expert team on the ground, they have been able to grow their businesses, increase their income and help Uganda transition to clean energy.