A five-year programme rewards entrepreneurship across East Africa by supporting micro-businesses to establish energy services and create employment opportunities in rural areas.
Willy Bamwenyena, 25, stands out as a young resourceful entrepreneur, who has been able to identify the energy gap in his community, in rural Uganda, and turned the need into a business opportunity. The GVEP-led Developing Energy Enterprise Project (DEEP) has boosted his business - and that of hundreds of other entrepreneurs across East Africa - to make and sell energy efficient cook-stoves.
Willy's firewood burning stoves are made from locally available materials such anthill soil and clay. The stoves are popular with many householders in Sissa, and up to 90% now own one. A key reason behind their success is that they are affordable and more energy efficient compared to the traditional 3-stone fireplace. In the long run, stove-owners save money that would have been spent buying firewood; and time - spent drying or collecting firewood. The stoves also reduce indoor air pollution considerably, hence decreasing the chronic health illnesses associated with the emission of harmful fumes from open fires.
Spotting this was a profitable opportunity, Willy started making stoves for his neighbours, initially borrowing tools from his friends. His ability to make use of social capital to get his business off the ground attracted the interest of the DEEP's staff, who were recruiting enterprising young people in his area.
His entrepreneurial spirit was nurtured by members of the GVEP Uganda team who invited Willy to receive extra training and guidance on how to expand his business. "I wanted to make more income for myself, create more jobs for others, so I jumped at the opportunity to attend the training sessions", says Willy.