Using a Market-Based Approach to Increase Access to Clean Energy in Humanitarian Setting in Uganda

Energy Access in humanitarian settings is made possible through a market-based approach
Good Practices

Using a Market-Based Approach to Increase Access to Clean Energy in Humanitarian Setting in Uganda

Energy Access in humanitarian settings is made possible through a market-based approach

"I now have the knowledge I did not have before. Now I own a solar kit that helps my children read at night, and we use it while eating food at night…"

- Harriet, TECA member

The project in brief

The project is implemented by ENVenture in Uganda. It began in 2019 and is currently ongoing. Brief description of the project. Goals.

ENVenture’s work aims to increase access to clean energy in refugee settlements by leveraging existing VSLAs. These VSLAs are turned into Energy Cooperatives, to open and run clean energy kiosks. Through training, links to quality suppliers, financing, mentoring, and market activations, the energy entrepreneurs are fully equipped to successfully run their clean energy business. Addressing challenges like distance to markets, women's purchasing power, and after-sale services, we create a sustainable, safer energy business environment. Refugee-operated energy kiosks promote livelihoods, reduce environmental impact, and boost clean energy access using a market-based approach.

The project aims to increase the number of last-mile energy entrepreneurs operating in refugee communities of Uganda by providing training and resources to support their energy businesses; Improve access to clean and affordable energy technologies for refugee communities in Uganda; and foster economic development and job creation in the refugee communities of Uganda by enabling energy entrepreneurs to open and run successful energy kiosks.

Main activities of the Good Practice

Project Activities:

  • Needs Assessment and Partner Engagement, Mapping, Selection of VSLAs, Formation of refugee-led cooperatives with support from the local authorities, and assessment of energy needs and entrepreneurial potential within the settlements.
  • Training/Bootcamps and Capacity Building, entrepreneurship, and business skills training, technical workshops on clean energy technologies, and financial literacy training entrepreneurs from cooperatives.
  • Financing, Kiosk Setup, and Market Activation, Support entrepreneurs in setting up clean energy kiosks, ENVenture working with certified product suppliers will provide stocks for the kiosks establishing operations.
  • Market campaigns will be conducted to create awareness across the communities.
  • Implementation and Monitoring, monitor kiosk performance, gather user feedback, and assess impact on health, income, and education.
  • Scaling and Replication, expanding kiosk network, integrating lessons learned, and collaborating with policy-makers for sustainability.

Monitoring and Evaluation Approach:

  • Baseline and Endline Surveys: Measure changes in key indicators before and after kiosk implementation.
  • Sales and Usage Data: Track product sales and utilization to assess the impact on energy access and adoption.
  • Focus Group Discussions: Engage users to gather qualitative insights into the effects on daily life, health, and gender dynamics.
  • Financial Performance Tracking: Monitor entrepreneurs' income, loan repayment rates, and business growth. Policy Engagement: Evaluate progress in policy advocacy and engagement with local authorities to enable long-term sustainability.

Learning and Refinement:

  • Regular review meetings will assess progress and adapt strategies based on real-time feedback.
  • Mid-term evaluations will analyze intermediate outcomes and inform adjustments.
  • Lessons learned will inform improvements in training modules, product selection, and operational procedures.

"Our kiosk is more than just an energy shop"

- Joyce Achirokop, Chairperson, LNECA

Partners involved

Project beneficiaries, district local government, development partners, local leaders, and project staff

What elements facilitated the implementation of the good practice?

Uganda's favorable policies towards refugees have played a crucial role. Refugees in Uganda are allowed to work and engage in entrepreneurial activities, creating an enabling environment for the project to empower them as clean energy entrepreneurs.

Partnership with VSLAs: Leveraging the existing Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) in refugee settlements provided a ready-made infrastructure for entrepreneurship training and support, streamlining project implementation.

Quality Energy Technology Suppliers: Collaborating with quality energy technology suppliers ensured a reliable source of products for the energy kiosks, facilitating smooth operations.

Mentorship and Coaching: The program's mentorship and coaching component helped build the capacity of refugee entrepreneurs, empowering them with the necessary skills for success.

Market Activation and Awareness Support: Initiatives to create awareness and activate markets within refugee settlements enhanced the adoption of clean energy technologies, furthering the project's goals.

Environmental Factors: Addressing environmental concerns, such as the strain on wood and other resources, motivated stakeholders and fostered community support.

Technological Tools: The use of the ENVision application improved the business operations of kiosk operators and customers, enhancing the overall project impact.

What challenges were encountered in delivering the project and how were they overcome?


Limited budget: the project could only work with a few energy cooperatives, yet the problem of energy access in refugee settlements is profound.

Drop out of entrepreneurs: Although we trained a good number of entrepreneurs, we faced a challenge where some of them lost interest in running the business.

Distortion: some partners give free products in the settlement which discourages some potential customers who who have bought the product from the cooperative we support.

Awareness and Adoption: Increasing awareness and adoption of clean energy technologies among refugees and host communities requires significant effort and resources.

How they were overcome

We are in the process of identifying other potential donors.

We overcame the challenge of dropout by diversifying the services at the kiosks such that the entrepreneurs are more engaged.

We are continuously engaging other partners to make them aware of our market-based approach program so that they stop distorting the market.

Engaging in marketing activation campaign to create more awareness within the refugee settlement.

Results of the Good Practice

We have created 6 clean energy kiosks in Kiryandongo and Bidibidi refugee settlements creating 250 jobs of which 70% were taken by women. These enterprises have sold clean energy products, benefiting over 80,000 people, and 77% of customers have testified that their quality of life has improved due to access to energy products. USD120,000 in income has been saved annually by the households served by our entrepreneurs as a result of the transition to clean energy technologies.

In what way does the good practice meet one or more of the four objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees?

Objective 1: Ease the pressures on host countries

Access to Clean Energy: By promoting clean energy access in refugee settlements, the project reduces the strain on local resources, such as firewood and biomass. This alleviates the environmental and resource pressures often faced by host countries hosting large refugee populations.

Objective 2: Enhance refugee self-reliance

Entrepreneurship Training: The project empowers refugees to become entrepreneurs, enabling them to generate income, manage their own businesses, and contribute to their communities' economic development, fostering self-reliance. Enabling refugees to get back their dignity.

Next steps

We would like to scale this project to other refugee settlements, and also deepen our existing programs in the settlement where we operate currently.

Are there areas in which support would be required to continue and/or scale up your good practice?

Funding: Securing long-term funding to support the project's continued operations and expansion is vital for its sustainability.

Technical assistance to help us improve our program.

Submitted by

Julius Mujuni, Country Director, ENVenture (New Energy Nexus ENVenture), [email protected]

Contact the project