Portfolio Stories | How ENVenture has invested in women to help solve the energy crisis

Published on: 19/10/2017




Portfolio Stories | How ENVenture has invested in women to help solve the energy crisis

Women’s 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 women1. 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 energy technologies.

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.”

ENVenture, Our Story: https://www.enventureenterprises.org/

Huffington Post, Investing in Youth is Crucial to Solving Global Energy Poverty: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/investing-in-youth-is-cru_b_2535670.html

Access Coalition, Inspiring Latent Entrepreneurialism in Young Professional Women: a New Model For Capacity Building in the Last Mile: https://access-coalition.org/2017/06/13/inspiring-latent-entrepreneurialism-in-young-professional-women-a-new-model-for-capacity-building-in-the-last-mile/

TRANSFORM, Our Portfolio, ENVenture: http://www.transform.global/modules/help/Market.aspx?id=6&appid=2