Better Energy, Better Communities.
Our solar technician model is turning the off-grid energy access model upside down by starting from the ground up.Find Out How
1.6 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. No company has the scale yet from their own product sales to afford to have a distributed customer service network, thus they must rely on centralized service centers that can very far from the villages, thus repairs/replacement cost time and money.
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.
After years in the rural solar market, we came to a simple truth.
The most trusted person isn’t who can sell you the best product, but rather who can fix it when it goes wrong.
We are working to build a network of last mile technicians in rural villages that provide technical services and after-sales support to consumers and collectively, build consumer confidence in clean energy products. These technicians are from the villages where they are working and thus are able to build up strong customer relationships and trust. In the long run, they will not only be able to sell and distribute a variety of products, but will spur a robust new source of rural jobs and income.
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