inclusion is one of the driving forces behind building a strong economy,
establishing more stable societies and improving the quality of life for
families and communities. One project that is tapping into this powerful
workforce is ENVenture, an incubator that trains
rural Community-Based Organisations (CBOs) in Uganda to become last-mile
distributors for clean energy.
Led by founder Aneri Pradhan, 70% of the rural jobs
created are obtained by women. With the support of TRANSFORM, ENVenture works
towards providing sustainable energy to all – Goal 7 of the Sustainable Development Goals – by 2030.
Universal access to energy
In many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the use of
kerosene for lighting is still prevalent, which is both unhealthy and dangerous,
due to the risk of respiratory infection and domestic fire. Many women also use
charcoal and wood to cook, which leads to indoor air pollution, and people
still drink contaminated water1.
ENVenture’s aim is to increase access in developing
countries to low-cost, low-carbon technologies, such as solar energy,
non-electric water filters, improved biomass cooking stoves and fuel
briquettes. These technologies can not only solve rural energy problems, but
also lessen the environmental impact. More importantly, they can improve current
living standards in underserved communities in terms of health and sanitation2.
In Uganda, ENVenture has partnered with CBOs that want
to start new ventures but lack the know-how to set up and scale these
operations. The idea is to empower these non-profit groups by creating and
expanding a network of stores.
ENVenture provides clean energy loans, opens up
distribution channels and teaches business skills for locally run sustainable
enterprises, so that low-income consumers have access to high-impact, clean
Woman-led social enterprise
The founder and executive director of ENVenture, Aneri
Pradhan, believes that building women’s capacity to learn entrepreneurship is
crucial in an unsteady work environment. She believes, however, that support
must go beyond enabling micro-entrepreneurship, targeting
women to lead Small and Medium Enterprises. This is the case in Uganda,
where women are twice as likely to be unemployed as men3.
“Women with innate business instincts can thrive in
setting up retail, distribution, and/or manufacturing units in clean energy
beyond just income generation, which would support the nation’s GDP growth,” said
Pradhan3. Led by a
woman, this social enterprise looks to inspire entrepreneurship in young women
and provide job opportunities in their communities.
TRANSFORM is supporting ENVenture by providing loans
to CBOs with the start-up capital needed to establish their enterprises in
Uganda. Following the pilot of the last-mile distribution model in the country,
ENVenture plans to grow within Uganda and impact an estimated 750,000
beneficiaries. The eventual aim is to scale the model to other countries4.
“TRANSFORM is a really remarkable programme that encourages the testing
of new early-stage distribution to reach low-income consumers,” said Pradhan. “TRANSFORM
understands that innovation is truly needed on the delivery of new technologies4.”
2 Huffington Post, Investing in Youth is Crucial to Solving Global Energy