Energy Poverty in UgandaSanga Moses is a social entrepreneur who founded Eco-Fuel Africa (EFA). This Ugandan-based company produces clean, sustainable cooking fuel from agricultural waste to tackle energy poverty in Uganda. Moses’ mission is to empower African communities while promoting sustainable development and reducing the negative impacts of deforestation and indoor air pollution.

Energy Sources in Uganda

In Uganda, most households use charcoal or firewood for cooking. Unfortunately, this practice is not only inefficient but also causes air pollution, which is bad for the environment and the health of people. According to the World Health Organization, indoor air pollution from solid fuels is responsible for about 3.2 million deaths globally each year, many of whom are children. Moreover, deforestation is a significant environmental issue in Uganda, as forests cover only about 12% of the country’s land area.

Moses recognized that agricultural waste, such as maize cobs and sugarcane bagasse, could be transformed into clean and efficient cooking fuel. He started Eco-Fuel Africa in 2010 with the goal of promoting a circular economy that would create value from waste while reducing environmental degradation and improving livelihoods.

Utilizing Agricultural Waste

Eco-Fuel Africa’s process involves collecting agricultural waste from farms and markets, transporting it to the company’s processing facility and transforming it into briquettes through a carbonization process. The briquettes are then sold to households, institutions and businesses as an alternative to charcoal and firewood. The fuel burns longer and hotter than traditional fuels. It produces less smoke, reducing indoor air pollution and respiratory diseases and creating a sustainable solution for energy poverty in Uganda.

EFA has helped disadvantaged women in Africa become micro-retailers of eco-friendly charcoal. Its approach involves visiting villages, identifying these marginalized women and providing them with training. EFA also constructs basic kiosks for each of them to use as retail shops for selling green charcoal within their local communities. To date, EFA has established hundreds of female retailers in Uganda, each earning a minimum of $152 monthly from selling eco-friendly charcoal.

Looking Ahead

Eco-Fuel Africa’s impact has been significant. The company has displaced thousands 0f tons of charcoal and firewood, reduced deforestation and improved the health and livelihoods of thousands of households. Moses’ innovative approach to waste management and sustainable energy has inspired other entrepreneurs and organizations to adopt similar models in Uganda and beyond.

Sanga Moses and Eco-Fuel Africa’s work exemplifies how social entrepreneurship can address pressing environmental and social challenges while promoting sustainable development and economic empowerment.

– Nino Basaria
Photo: Flickr

entrepreneurs in AfricaThe Baobab Network is an investment company dedicated to empowering small business owners across the African continent. Many countries in Africa including Ethiopia, have incredibly fast-growing economies. While aid has been a long-standing form of economic assistance to many of the low-income countries in Africa, small entrepreneurs in Africa often lack access, connections and funding to reap those benefits. The Baobab Network does more than just throw money into the economy. The company gets tech-focused businesses off the ground to sustain their communities.

The Baobab Network’s Mission

The baobab tree is infamous across sub-Saharan Africa and a true symbol of the company’s philosophy. With an emphasis on the power of technology, The Baobab Network seeks to build sustainability in the untapped marketplaces. What’s more, these solutions are working to solve some of the continent’s most pressing issues.

The strategy used by The Baobab Network to build up small businesses is three-pronged. The strategy starts with a $50,000 investment, an intensive venture consulting regimen and access to an entire network of experts, investors and potential business partners. Capital is necessary for small businesses, especially those looking to break into a market where there was little opportunity as the technology and service sectors are underdeveloped in many regions of sub-Saharan Africa. This funding can be used to invest in the right people, the right equipment and the right business plan. Continued involvement in the early stages of the businesses that The Baobab Network supports ensures that growth is achieved. Capacity-building in the beginning, coupled with lifetime access to global support allows business owners in Africa to continue to grow their companies and contribute to the development of their communities.

Portfolio Companies

The companies that The Baobab network has invested in are achieving creative, groundbreaking solutions. For example, FXKudi, a company started by Abioye Oyetunji, Adetunji Afeez and Kodjo Kevin is connecting the West African marketplace through technology. FXKudi operates in six countries and allows people to spend, send and receive money through an app on their phone, allowing buyers and sellers to interact across borders. While countries in West Africa are close together geographically, they lack a strong interconnectedness, especially in their economies. This has shifted in recent years, and Brookings reports that cross-cultural engagement in Africa can be a vessel for economic rebuilding.

Thola is another successful company in The Baobab Network, started by a woman named Nneile based in South Africa. Thola champions “peer-to-peer lending,” connecting small business owners including livestock farmers to access to capital without the discouraging red tape. The company believes that simplifying relationships between lenders and investors is the best way to build community and achieve growth.

A number of other Baobab Network companies are doing great things including creating education marketplaces and digitizing manufacturing industries. The company focuses exclusively on African candidates and yet many of the companies are reaching a worldwide audience.

A Look Ahead

The Baobab Network is doing important work all over the continent. African entrepreneurs from Ethiopia to Sudan have the opportunity to secure investment and change their futures. Additionally, it is clear that the growth of self-sustaining businesses that are looking to the future of technology will have positive implications for the growth of the entire economy. Empowering one empowers many and The Baobab Network’s portfolio of successful companies could be changing the world.

Hannah Yonas
Photo: Wikimedia