Better Energy, Better Communities.
Our solar technician model is proving that the most trusted person in the village isn’t who sells you the best product, but who can fix it when it breaks.
Find Out How
1.6 billion people lack access to energy. Solving this has the potential to improve every possible social-economic indicator, as well as reduce carbon emissions from one of the dirtiest sources: kerosene. One of the most promising paths that has emerged in recent years is going “off grid”: providing solar laterns and home systems to individual households. Many companies and organizations have jumped in with a variety of products and business models, some of which are rapidly expanding. However, all of them are coming up against three big issues:
Last Mile Distribution
Getting to the most rural areas where the need and opportunity is greatest is a massive logistical challenge. Many villages are only accessible by dirt paths on motorcycles.
Scaled sales is hard, but scaled serving is even harder. Most solar companies lack the sales volume to afford a truly distributed customer service network, thus they must rely on centralized service centers that are far from many villages, thus increasing the time and cost of replacements.
Consumer TrustOur research estimates that over 50% of solar systems installed in East Africa break down due to a myriad of reasons, including product quality, operating conditions, and user error. In most cases, there isn’t the option of getting it serviced. The products remain broken, thus users lose trust in solar and go back to using kerosene.
We aim to solve this by building a network of franchised rural technicians that can cut repair times from 4-8 weeks to 48-72 hours. Once established, this network will become a trusted source of new solar and related products, provide ongoing maintenance/servicing of larger clients, and eventually become the local warranty servicing partner of product manufacturers. Our unique combination of vocational training, entrepreneurship support, supply chain development, and community outreach/marketing is creating not only jobs, but an entire new economy centered around localized entrepreneurship and technical skills.
Providing quick, affordable servicing by technicians recruited from and located directly in their community will boost consumer confidence in solar and thus increase adoption rates of solar products in rural off-grid communities. Getting them off kerosene and onto a reliable, affordable source of clean energy will have incredible environmental, health, safety, economic, educational, and social benefits, while at the same time providing male and female entrepreneurs as strong community role models.
Working with local vocational institutes to further refine and scale a curriculum that will not only teach technicians how to fix solar, but also key business skills to help bolster their income. So far 15 technicians have completed training, including our first two women.
Supply Chain Management
All the training is useless without the inventory to create a viable business. Village Energy is working to build an international supply chain to provide all the technicians with the spare parts, tools and batteries that they need to operate a viable business. While the current industry average repair time 4 to 8 weeks, we deliver within 72 hours.
We promote the technicians through new signage and marketing initiatives, hosting multiple-day business launch events where the whole area is invited to bring in their broken products for on-the-spot fixing. Thus far, our first 9 technicians have serviced over 400 clients, a number that is growing rapidly as demand for services increase.
Climate ChangeEliminating kerosene lamps will not only reduce CO2 emissions but also prevent the emission of black carbon, a short-lived climate pollutant now recognized as the second biggest cause of global warming.
Job CreationUp to 1500 youth will earn new incomes directly or indirectly from the 500 repair shops we will set up over the next two years, increasing incomes by up to $150/month.
Poverty AlleviationBuying a solar light can save a family up to $70/year, representing 15-25% of their annual income which can otherwise be spent on schooling, food, and economic activities.
HealthSwitching from kerosene will not only prevent kerosene-caused fires that kill and injure thousands a year, but will also remove it as a major cause of indoor air pollution, which kills 4.3 million people per year — more than HIV and Malaria combined (WHO).
EducationWith solar lights being much brighter than kerosene lamps, children no longer have headaches and eye strain and thus study an average of an extra hour each evening.
SafetyPrevent thousands of injuries and deaths a year from kerosene-caused fires and accidental ingestion by young children.
Growing up in Uganda, Abu Musuuza had the privilege to spend his childhood in both rural and urban areas. From and early age he noticed the economic and social limitations and dangers faced by people relying on kerosene compared to those who had access to electricity. Times have only gotten worse since then: once green and fertile land is suffering long dry spells, and deforestation has reached a crisis point. This has awakened him to the urgency as well as the immense opportunity of sustainable energy access.
After six successful years at Ashoka, Abu started Village Energy in 2009 with Roey Rosenblith to distribute locally assembled solar systems, eventually transitioning to distributing and installing 3rd party systems. During this time, they saw how the lack of servicing options in rural areas was eroding trust in solar, and discouraging entire communities from investing in new solar products. In 2014 Village Energy pivoted to address this gap, which has resulted in a new model that can finally solve this big bottleneck in bringing energy access to rural Africa.
Abubaker Musuuza, Co-Founder and CEO: A native Ugandan and former Ashoka East Africa program manager, Abu co-founded Village Energy in 2009. Originally focused on manufacturing and distributing solar systems, he pivoted to this new model in late 2014, for which he has been selected as an Ashoka fellow and Echoing Green fellow. Abu is an Acumen East Africa and Unreasonable Institute alumnus, and a graduate of Makerere University. firstname.lastname@example.org
Jay Patel, VP of Business Development: A five-year veteran of Google, Jay has extensive experience in sales, marketing and operations, and plays a leading role in partnerships, fundraising, and business model development. Jay is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania. email@example.com
Peter Ojangole, Regional Operations Manager: A native Ugandan, Peter has 6 years of experience in finance, sales, marketing and program coordination. Peter is also the Co-Founder and Coach of the Soroti Cricket Academy, and is a graduate of Makerere University.
Sara Cohen, Director of Programs: Sara has six years of experience in development in Uganda, specializing in youth and women’s empowerment and education. She received her MA in African Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London, with an emphasis on East Africa. She also holds a BA in International Development from Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada.
Rhys Feeney, FinOps Analyst: Rhys joins Village Energy with experience in strategy and operational design, financial services and management. With a passion for development and youth empowerment, Rhys has also worked with Non-Profits and NGO’s in Uganda and Australia. Rhys has a double degree in Law and Commerce from the University of Western Australia.
Village Energy Limited
7A Market Rise, Off Namuwongo Road
Office: +256 757347064/ +256 771027068
Mobile: +256 752041445