Turning rural freelancers into solar energy entrepreneurs

In Uganda, many solar installations in rural areas are carried out by freelancers. These usually have little knowledge of solar technology and are therefore unable to provide customers with professional information. A special training program of the SENDEA Academy has remedied this situation since 2021 and has already trained more than 200 freelancers in solar technology.

One participant is Doreen Nabwire (24). She runs a small store selling electronic parts in Kamuli Buwenge, about a 2.5‑hour drive northeast of the capital Kampala. Batteries, light bulbs and electrical wires make up a significant part of her sales.

Doreen wants to develop herself and her business and has successfully completed the basic course for freelancers. Now she is ready to take her first steps in the solar business by selling solar kits — and is supported by an accelerator program of Sendea Academy.

The six-month program covers areas such as product purchasing, customer acquisition, customer care, financing, accounting and general business management. Support is provided by experienced local entrepreneurs, as the focus is less on theoretical training and more on practical implementation in day-to-day business.

Upon successful completion of the support program, participants receive an interest-free loan in kind from a fund set up for this program. The loan is granted in the form of solar products. Upon successful repayment, the loan amount can be successively increased.

The first stage of the Accelerator program has now been completed: Noreen and nine of her colleagues have completed initial training and are now receiving their first solar products.

The Accelerator Program is funded by the Stiftung Solarenergie and the Stiftung Entwicklungszusammenarbeit Baden-Württemberg (SEZ).