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Solar Solutions Drive Growth in Ugandan Rural Enterprises, Survey Shows

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solar solutions drive growth in ugandan rural enterprises survey shows
solar solutions drive growth in ugandan rural enterprises survey shows
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Business owners in rural areas are increasingly turning to solar gadgets like refrigerators, televisions, and lighting to address their power challenges, reports Village Energy Solar Solution, a social enterprise. According to the enterprise, a survey, supported by the Global LEAP Awards Refrigeration Challenge, was conducted on 36 off-grid small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that received solar refrigerators in 2018 across five districts.

The results of the survey indicated that these SMEs experienced improvements in their business performance. On average, their daily income increased from Shs146,000 to Shs262,000, with daily revenue from drinks alone rising from approximately Shs45,000 to Shs108,000. Additionally, around 50% of the respondents reported expanding into new business lines, and all of them noted an increase in customers and sales, with overwhelmingly positive feedback.

A follow-up survey conducted in 2020 by Energy4Impact, assessing the impact of the 2018 distribution, revealed that 83% of the respondents still possessed the solar fridges they received, while 89% found it challenging to identify a suitable alternative to these fridges. An impressive 86% were likely to recommend the solar fridge to a friend, rating it between 8-10 out of 10.

Further analysis from the survey showed that 83% of the respondents noticed business growth in the previous two years due to the fridges, and 27% were able to purchase new solar systems or appliances as a result of increased income and awareness. Overall, respondents expressed gratitude and satisfaction, sharing stories of purchasing land, saving for future plans, buying clothes for their children, and starting projects like piggeries, all contributing to an improved standard of living.

According to Waringa Matindi, the CEO of Village Energy, solar energy refrigerators are continuously enhancing livelihoods by boosting productivity, extending working hours, increasing product and service offerings, while also reducing energy costs and eliminating energy-related business losses.

Equity Bank has joined forces with Village Energy to provide affordable financial solutions to SMEs within the solar energy ecosystem. Village Energy, a Uganda-registered for-profit social enterprise, was founded in 2008 and is headquartered in Kampala. It specializes in distributing customized solar solutions that enable productive energy use for businesses, non-profit institutions, and agriculture in underserved areas.