Partnering up to share the power of light in Africa


    June 19, 2020


    Bringing clean energy access to last mile communities in Uganda once seemed an impossible hurdle. It’s now become the shared goal of three diverse organizations. 

    This is just one story of how thinking outside the box and working together in partnership can result in amazing results.

    The renewable energy sector in Uganda is relatively young but with the great potential. The government is progressive and recognizes the critical role of decentralized energy distribution as part of the rural electrification roadmap. The enabling regulatory and policy environment and market opportunity has attracted most of the large players in the solar sector who have set up operations here in the past years.

    However, there are several challenges that the sector and the solar companies face – the primary being access to skilled human capital. Recognizing this challenge as an inverted opportunity, Enlight Institute has set up its business model to fill the human capital gap by training local youth in the different specific skills required by these companies. This triggered a collaboration with BRAC on a small pilot to assess if a focus on training girls in solar sales skills would enable them to find jobs in the sector.

    Power of light in Africa-1

    BRAC in Uganda has established the Empowerment and Livelihood for Adolescents (ELA) program that targets adolescent girls between the ages of 13 and 21, especially those who are out of school. The primary goal of the program is to help the girls achieve greater economic and social empowerment and become agents of change in their families and communities.

    BRAC provides safe spaces, called ‘adolescents clubs’, where they are able to exercise their freedom to express themselves, interact with peers and mentors, and learn about critical social issues including sexual and reproductive health, early marriage, gender-based violence and drug abuse.

    This pool of pre-sensitized young women was the recruiting pool for Enlight Institute, from which 22 girls were trained to become solar sales agents. 

    Power of light in Africa-2
    African Clean Energy (ACE) is a Dutch-South African social enterprise focused on enabling decentralized access to clean energy to rural households in Sub-Saharan Africa. ACE started operations in Northern Uganda, but business wasn’t optimized without a robust sales team to meet their targets. Their efforts to recruit sales staff in Northern Uganda were proving to be very challenging.
    BRAC, Enlight Institute and ACE are all longer-term partners of Signify Foundation. Once the BRAC-ELA girls had been trained by Enlight Institute they were presented to ACE as possible sales recruits. Eight of them were hired and are being coached on the longer term to support their debut in formal employment. Though there have been challenges along the road for the young women, the story of Sharon, one of the young ladies, and a star performer at ACE, proves that there is value to be had in this model.
    Power of light in Africa-3
    This pilot provided all organizations the opportunity to do an agile practical test of a hypothesis, which BRAC and Enlight Institute, with the support of Signify Foundation and other donors, hope to scale up in the coming months. Proving that partnerships like these are essential to disrupt business as usual and accelerate gender-inclusive job creation and clean energy transitions.

    About the author:

    Marta Osiro

    Martha Osiro


    Program Manager, Signify Foundation, Uganda

    For further information, please contact:

    Signify Global Integrated Communications
    Neil Pattie
    Tel: + 31 6 15 08 48 17

    About Signify


    Signify (Euronext: LIGHT) is the world leader in lighting for professionals and consumers and lighting for the Internet of Things. Our Philips products, Interact connected lighting systems and data-enabled services, deliver business value and transform life in homes, buildings and public spaces. With 2019 sales of EUR 6.2 billion, we have approximately 38,000 employees and are present in over 70 countries. We unlock the extraordinary potential of light for brighter lives and a better world. We have been named Industry Leader in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for three years in a row. News from Signify is located at the Newsroom, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. Information for investors can be found on the Investor Relations page.

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