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  • Writer's pictureENVenture

Building the Capacity of Last Mile Dwellers to Solve Energy Access

Updated: Jan 21, 2019

By Marvin Tumusiime, Program Officer, ENVenture.

In Uganda, majority of inhabitants are still depending heavily on traditional and environmentally destructive methods of cooking, lighting and water treatment. We know clean cooking and lighting are important and the inputs to these everyday needs play a critical role in climate change. However for the 85% of inhabitants living on less than $3 a day, this presents an even greater bottleneck of pulling out of energy poverty. While many sustainable solutions continue to sprout up, a focus on the last mile people’s capability is largely untapped into especially since the local communities know their needs well and should have the power to dictate the courses of their livelihood. One way this is being achieved is through entrepreneurship which is ingrained in the heart of Ugandans. Whether it’s due to an ingrown passion, relentless ambition or societal peer pressure, it happens in one way or another thanks to the budding minds of the young population. For that to take effect, entrepreneurship requires a backing force in the form of finance and capacity and this can not happen without having certain synergies in place. This is how social enterprises like ENVenture are tackling this gap head on.

ENVenture has been supporting Community Based Organizations in Uganda over the last four years to start and sustain last mile energy enterprises with the objective of increasing access to clean energy technologies such as solar, improved cook stoves, water filters, and fuel briquettes. This is achieved through financing, capacity building and technology. This blog will be a chanel to air out the challenges and lessons learned in last mile energy access. ENVenture applies capacity building in a unique way. The program facilitates one regional training session known as a bootcamp for each quarter in a year. The last one took place in Kampala at the end of September 2018 and brought together close to 40 aspiring clean energy entrepreneurs ready to take on a new challenge. Hailing from different districts, the social workers spent three consecutive days learning a new trade.

The Bootcamp participants on Day 1 of the workshop

It’s not enough to talk about Sustainable Development Goal number 7, but to illustrate an implementation plan that works. Using traditional one on one coaching and new Empowered Entrepreneur Training modules, the participants are given guiding principles to business growth for social value creation. Each Community Based Organisation is then paired with a volunteer (aka Business Development Fellow — typically a young business professional or graduate) to lend knowledge and support to the startup of the enterprise.

The Business Development Fellows; Oscar, Sheebah, Lillian, Diane, Carla, Alice and Joshua (Left to Right)

Although the bootcamps have been eight in total, the distinctive element about this particular one and the last two has been the high percentage of women participants that ENVenture is bringing on board. Now more than ever, Gender Lens Investing cannot be emphasized more. In the last mile, research shows that women tend to domestic affairs and on average spend 90% of their time in the home every day, taking care of it or preparing meals. By undertaking bigger empowerment initiatives, the rural women can now have dual roles as both clean energy entrepreneurs and domestic life. By connecting more women leaders and influencers in these sessions and the others to come, this new movement is bound to elevate women empowerment to another level.

Read the last Bootcamp report here

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ENVenture is a social enterprise that is building out the ecosystem in the last mile for clean energy access through financing, capacity building and technology.

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