Better Energy, Better Communities.
We are boosting access, affordability, and trust in solar energy by building a solar technician and retail shop network to fix and sell solar products in rural Uganda. We recruit and train young men and women as technicians and entrepreneurs, setting them up as franchisees with their own branded repair & sales shop. These shops are supplemented by a network of phone-charging micro-entrepreneurs equipped with PayGo systems who will also act as referral sales agents. By building a training pipeline of technical & entrepreneurship opportunities for young rural men and women as well as a supply chain of high quality products & parts, we aim to increase and sustain off-grid electrification in rural communities.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 have found that repairs result in more credibility than the best sales pitch. At the same time, our field research and focus groups have shown that accessibility and affordability remain such big barriers for many rural communities that there is not enough solar adoption for trust to be an issue. Therefore, we aim to simultaneously tackle accessibility, affordability, and trust through our network of branded solar shops that can also provide guaranteed repairs within 48 hours. The phone-charging micro-entrepreneurs will not only be PayGo customers, but will also serve as demonstrators and commision-based sales agents, thus expanding our presence even deeper into remote areas.
All vetted candidates receive a two-week technical and entrepreneurship training through a curriculum/certification partnership with universities in Kenya and Uganda, after which the best candidates are taken on as shop managers and/or technicians.
Distribution & Installations
With our network of retail locations directly in rural communities, we are increasing access and affordability of solar products for households. We also work with local businesses and institutions like schools and health clinics to do custom installations and maintenance.
Repairs and Maintenance
We are working to establish a supply chain of spare parts and components. By working with product manufacturers, we can provide in-warranty and out-of-warranty repairs for products, thus saving time and cost for both the manufacturer and the end user.
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 150 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.
Team & Awards
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 co-founded the Soroti Cricket Academy, and is a graduate of Makerere University.
Village Energy Limited
7A Market Rise, Off Namuwongo Road
Office: +256 757347064/ +256 771027068
Mobile: +256 752041445