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FINCA Solar Energy Project Lights Up Homes and Businesses in Uganda

FINCA Uganda client Matilda Kayondo
FINCA Uganda client Matilda Kayondo uses her FINCA-financed SHS to light her store during frequent power outages. She used to use candles, until one caused a fire.

In a recently concluded pilot test in Uganda, where just five percent of the population has access to electricity, FINCA provided micro-energy loans to 430 clients to finance solar home systems that offer a sustainable source of electricity for lighting and other uses. Our clients reported a number of benefits from the solar home systems (SHS), including improved respiratory health and cost savings (both resulting from reduced burning of kerosene for lighting) and also said that their children were able to study at night.

While we envisioned that the clients would use the SHS to power their homes, many clients said they used the SHS in their businesses. In a number of cases, clients were actually able to develop new business lines, such as cell phone charging services. Others are using the systems to light their poultry or pig farming businesses, health clinics, retail shops, schools and daycare centers, and beauty salons. We are now planning to scale up the pilot test in Uganda, assuming we can secure sufficient funding for the expansion.

FINCA Uganda SHS client Rose Nassimbwa
FINCA Uganda SHS client Rose Nassimbwa
FINCA Uganda client Rose Nassimbwa lives in a small two-room brick house near a market. She runs a small restaurant and a tailor shop in the market. The FINCA-financed SHS appealed to her because, though she lives within range of the electricity grid, she cannot afford the connection fee.

Ms. Nassimbwa uses her SHS at home to charge her cell phone and to power a lamp for an hour in the mornings and two-three hours in the evenings, so that her children can do their homework in the electric light. She still uses kerosene for making tea, but not for lighting her house anymore. Ms. Nassimbwa is so pleased with her FINCA SHS that she is now considering acquiring a second system for her restaurant. She is also thinking about moving her sewing machine from her shop to her house for the pre-Christmas holiday period—when demand for her clothing designs rises—so that she can put in extra hours sewing during the evenings with lighting from the solar panel. Her goal is to use her additional revenue to expand her tailoring business by purchasing a larger inventory of fabrics and sewing materials to better meet her clients’ requests.

Children at Ugandan school
Children at a school benefit from electric lighting generated by the SHS installed with a FINCA Uganda micro-energy loan.
FINCA Uganda client Victo Nakuwurua is a 67-year-old widow who lives in a semi-urban area close to a market. She owns a shop in town, where she sells cold drinks and offers tailoring services, and a private school in a nearby rural area, which her nephew George Sembogga runs. The shop is connected to the grid but the school, which has about 30 students, is not, so Ms. Nakuwurua secured a FINCA Uganda micro-energy loan to install an SHS at the school. Mr. Sembogga uses the SHS to run four lamps in the school building, enabling the children and their teachers to see their textbooks and blackboard more clearly, and a cell phone charger. Ms. Nakuwurua and Mr. Sembogga are delighted with the school’s solar energy-powered lighting.

FINCA Uganda SHS client Theo Buwumbo
FINCA Uganda SHS client Theo Buwumbo
Longtime FINCA Uganda client Theo Buwumbo lives with her husband and children in a brick house with a corrugated tin roof in a rural area several hours from Kampala City. To supplement the family’s income, Mrs. Buwombo runs a tailor shop, sells avocados and vanilla that she grows in her garden and also manages a small poultry farm, where she raises about 50 egg-laying hens. She was recently named FINCA’s “saver of the month” to recognize her saving her profits to be able to build a better future for her family.

With the acquisition of the FINCA-financed SHS, Mrs. Buwombo can not only light her house but she was able to start a new and lucrative line of business—charging cell phones for her neighbors.


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