Our Impact

Wekembe Sacco and GVEP facilitate access to finance

To date, GVEP initiatives have provided over four million people with access to clean energy.

Our activities have also resulted in:

- Over 90 SMEs and 1,600 micro-enterprises receiving support
- 2.7 million tons of CO2 having been avoided due to renewable technologies
- $20m being leveraged to support the development of early-stage companies
- Over 3,000 local jobs being created in Africa and the Caribbean

Most importantly, we are conscious that we are making a difference in an efficient manner. As measured in one programme, the Developing Energy Enterprises Programme (DEEP) [link to relevant part of Programmes page], we achieved the equivalent of one person gaining access to improved energy for every Euro (€1) of funding.  

Energy access brings tangible benefits to all areas of society and it has a direct impact on health, agriculture and food production, small businesses, households and education. Below are a few examples of the differences that our work has made in these areas.

Energy and health

Millions of people are exposed to indoor air pollution from toxic fumes of cooking fuels and kerosene lanterns, resulting in chronic eye and lung conditions. GVEP is tackling this problem; we have worked in total with over 800 entrepreneurs involved in manufacturing and selling cleaner fuels and more efficient stoves in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, with 80 currently active engagements. We are also currently active with one stove business in the Caribbean.

We’re offering technical guidance, business development support and marketing advice to these businesses helping them build up their capability to supply high quality, more efficient and cleaner forms of energy for cooking so as to reduce the incidence of associated deaths and diseases. Health centers, vaccine dispensaries and hospitals are also at the heart of GVEP-supported solar power and micro hydropower initiatives, drastically improving the quality and reliability of their health services throughout East Africa.

Energy, agriculture & food production

Growing and processing food requires energy. GVEP is working with various agricultural and food production companies to help them fund investments to improve their access to energy and  boost their productivity. This is done through the implementation of mini-grids and hybrid systems and through the adoption of renewable energy technologies.

Agricultural by-products represent an important source of energy. In East Africa, crops such as maize, cereals and sugar cane all produce residues that can be used to make briquettes, which serve as a sustainable alternative to charcoal or fuelwood for cooking. GVEP is working with entrepreneurs in Africa to increase the production and use of sustainable energy sources. We are also working with businesses using agricultural main crops, by-products, or animal or food waste as feedstocks for anaerobic digestion, gasification and biofuel production.

Energy and small businesses

Reliable and affordable energy enables increased operating hours for all kinds of businesses  such as restaurants, chilled foodstuffs, mobile phone and car battery charging, sewing, food processing, artisan workshops, electrical and vehicle repair, internet provision, cinemas, barbershops, etc.... GVEP works directly with businesses in various sectors to use improved access to modern energy in order to develop their activities.

The businesses benefit from increased production and profitability, while the surrounding communities benefit from job creation and increased incomes to pay for education and better food. GVEP is also working with developers of mini-grids and small hydro systems helping them to supply power to productive end users and businesses to generate profit.

Energy in the households

For most households cooking is the most important energy need. However, throughout the developing world, the majority of women still cook and heat water with wood or coal-based fuels on inefficient and harmful fires and stoves. Furthermore, people with no electricity in their homes rely on expensive candles or kerosene lamps. These provide poor illumination, affect their health and are a fire hazard. Radios use expensive batteries and charging a mobile phone could mean travelling miles.

GVEP is helping to promote the use of solar products, such as lanterns, larger home systems, solar phone and battery chargers, energy efficient cookstoves and fuels by providing local producers and stockists with technical advice, marketing training, business coaching and facilitating access to affordable loans. As a result, microbusinesses are able to grow in the domestic energy product markets.

Energy and education

Improved access to energy means more children can have the chance to receive a better education, especially children in poor households who spend hours daily helping in the fields, doing the house chores, collecting fuel wood and fetching water. Modern energy services in the home can reduce the burden on children, giving them more time to study and attend school. They can also provide lighting to allow studying after dark. Meanwhile, access to electricity in schools offers greater opportunities for learning, as they can operate in the evening and access computers and the internet.

GVEP is implementing improved cookstoves programmes for schools, which save them money that they can spend on books and equipment and improve the teaching and learning conditions. We also work with microbusinesses to increase the availability of affordable solar energy solutions in rural homes.  

Meet some of the entrepreneurs that GVEP has helped:

Briquettes: a safe and cost-effective cooking fuel

Norah Mukasa (right) is a GVEP trained briquette entrepreneur from Besoke, rural Uganda. Elivansoni Nakimbugure (centre) and Nob Kisakye (left) are two of her customers, who have experienced the benefits of using briquettes.

As Elivansoni explains, ‘At first I was using firewood but now I use briquettes. Using briquettes I can relax when I am cooking and don’t have to pay as much attention to the fire. Because they burn longer the food will keep warm for a long time.’ Elivansoni has a family of five to feed and would previously use around 4 bundles of firewood a week costing her around 8000 UGX ($3.42). With briquettes she uses around 3kg a week which only costs her 1500 UGX ($0.64). The money she saves on fuel she now uses for other household needs such as buying maize flour.

As well as cost savings cooking with briquette can bring health benefits compared to the use of firewood. ‘Briquettes don’t produce smoke and we can even put the stove inside the house’, Elivansoni explains, ‘Using firewood gives off a lot of smoke and I would have tears in my eyes and a pain in my head. Now my eyes are clear and my head feels normal. I tell my friends about briquettes’. See Norah's photo story.

From NGO to social business

Improved stoves and solar lanterns are affordable for many Kenyans. They save people money as well as having health benefits. John Maina is determined to make these products available to a wide number of people and he’s using commercial marketing methods to achieve this goal. John is the director of an NGO called SCODE based in Nakuru, Kenya, which is evolving into a social business.

SCODE has been in the energy sector for many years. John and his team have installed around 500 biogas units across Kenya and he also produces and sells improved stoves. Now he’s extending into selling solar-powered lanterns thanks to a loan from EcoBank which GVEP helped to facilitate. The loan from EcoBank enabled John to buy a small stock of lanterns to test in the market. These were an instant success. He sold 50 lanterns in 2 weeks, and is already ordering more. He stocks two sizes of lanterns: D-Light’s powerpack which sells at 6000 Kshs and the smaller Firefly from Barefoot Power, selling for 1600-1700 Kshs. The smaller lantern, which comes with a phone charger, is particularly popular. SCODE has a network of 15 local distributors who have been selling its stoves for some time. Now the same people are starting to stock the lanterns.

The EcoBank loan allows John to offer his distributors 30 days credit on 50% of the cost of purchasing stock. The other 50% has to be paid up front. The distributors also extend credit to some of their customers, giving them a little longer to find the money to complete a purchase. Because they know their customers the distributors are able to minimise any risk of non-payment. Customers also deal directly with SCODE. John has recently received an order from the Ministry of Health for 15 lanterns for rural health posts around Nakuru. The lanterns will make it much easier for the nurses to work at night. He’s confident he will get more such orders.

As well as facilitating the loan for SCODE through a partial risk guarantee, GVEP has been providing business advice and is helping SCODE develop a brand and professional marketing materials. The staff and distributors will all be trained in marketing in a bid to help them increase sales. The SCODE stoves are of high quality but are not branded, so they appear indistinguishable from poorer-quality stoves. More distinctive colouring and labels will in future help customers identify a SCODE stove. ‘We need to strengthen our sales and marketing,’ John says. ‘The training will be very useful. GVEP has helped us a lot.’ GVEP has been able to provide loan guarantee funds thanks to its partnership with the Garfield Weston Foundation.


 Fuel efficient stoves provide income opportunities for women in Tanzania

Getruda Ndungile is a 58 year old teacher from Ngudu in Kwiba district, Tanzania who after receiving business and technology training from GVEP's Developing Energy Enterprises Programme (DEEP) decided to expand her small cook stove business. Since then with further encourage and support from her business mentor her sales have steadily increased. She is now preparing to open up a second outlet in the town and employ someone to help her continue to grow the business.

Salma Alhumani cooks for a household of 12 people, from her home in Ngudu in Kwiba district, Tanzania. She purchased a kuni mbili energy efficient cook stove from Getruda Ndungile a GVEP entrepreneur who sells the stoves in the town. As Salma explains, ‘The stove is easy to use, it takes less time to cook and is portable’. Salma buys one bundle of firewood for 500 TZS ($0.32). Using her old stove one bundle would last for 1 day but using the kuni mbili stove one bundle will last for 3 days. See Getruda's and Salma's photo story.