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New Energy Nexus Uganda /

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supported by the UK Government Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
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New Energy Nexus Uganda connects people in rural areas with clean energy. Through financing, training and investment, it empowers grassroots organisations and entrepreneurs to create change in their own communities. 60 new jobs were created in 2020 alone.  

In rural Uganda, community-based organisations provide many essential services – supporting better health, education, sanitation and work for local people. New Energy Nexus plays a unique role helping these locally structured small organisations bring affordable renewable energy to the country’s remote villages, creating new markets for clean energy products. 

650 new jobs supported

70% taken by women

$200,000 of investment in grassroots enterprises

""RFCare has been able to work with communities in hard-to-reach areas in Kasese district, due to the business loans accessed from NENU""

Biira Imelda, co-founder, RFCare

This approach reaches remote and marginalised communities that risk being left behind in the global clean energy transition. It is particularly important in Uganda, as only 19% of the country’s people have access to electricity, and less than 2% have access to modern cooking facilities. 

Before working with New Energy Nexus, most community-based organisations relied on donations for income. New Energy Nexus provides business training and mentoring, and credit to buy clean energy products such as solar lanterns, briquettes, water filters and cookstoves. Organisations sell these at affordable prices to local people. Once organisations have established a successful business model, they qualify for further support and larger loans to buy more products and invest in marketing and sales teams. 

New Energy Nexus has incubated 123 small enterprises across Uganda. This has also created 650 jobs, with 70% taken by women. The total value of the investments is $200,000, and $2.9 million is saved by customers every year as a result of using cleaner technologies. Supported organisations have sold more than 15,000 clean energy products, benefiting 100,000 people. 77% of customers say their quality of life is much improved as a result of their new product, and 85% say it is saving them money. New Energy Nexus Uganda ensures that all products sold are of a good quality, come with a warranty and meet international standards. 

Bootcamps and WhatsApp help innovators thrive 

Training and business support from New Energy Nexus Uganda has three key elements:  

  • A three-day bootcamp on topics including finance, marketing, sales, accounting and management. This is also a chance for manufacturers to meet with distributors to demonstrate their products. 
  • Support from mentors – typically graduates of university business programmes – for a three-month period. During this time, the community-based organisation carries out a marketing survey of its community to understand which clean energy products it should stock, and how it might provide consumer finance.   
  • Links to peers: organisations are encouraged to create their own peer support group, and use WhatsApp and Facebook to share experiences and lessons. 

Other innovation from New Energy Nexus Uganda includes an offline bookkeeping app for small merchants and street vendors. This tracks inventory and sales, works well with a limited internet connection, and relies on pictures to ensure it is usable by people with low literacy. 

Support brings safer cooking to thousands of families 

RFCare is a community-based organisation empowering women and young people in the Rwenzori Highlands region. Through New Energy Nexus’ incubation programme, it received a loan of $2,000 to support the sale of cookstoves that create less air pollution than traditional models, as well as fuel briquettes and water filters. The loan also helped train young people in cookstove installation and repair. So far, the company has sold 1,800 stoves. 

Co-founder Biira Imelda says: “RFCare has been able to work with communities in hard-to-reach areas in Kasese district, due to the business loans accessed from NENU. The elderly are proudly cooking with an improved cook stove.” 

Across Uganda, New Energy Nexus plays an essential role as a partner and supportive intermediary, unlocking potential by connecting grassroots organisations with suppliers and others, and by aggregating orders to manufacturers – this enables frontline organisations to buy stock at a better price. With community-based organisations common across East Africa, this model has the potential to create huge impact. 

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