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 Mussuza 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 2010 with Roey Rosenblith to distribute locally assembled solar systems which saw a lot of early traction and developed great partnerships with local microfinance institutions. However, they saw many people with solar systems that had been broken for months with nowhere to get a repair service or spare parts. Their inability to get any help destroyed their faith in the market, making it difficult to increase the adoption rate. 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.
Village Energy Limited
7A Market Rise, Off Namuwongo Road
Office: +256 757347064/ +256 771027068
Mobile: +256 752041445