« 100 YEARS – 100 LIVES » | UGANDA - “I wanted my business to be good both for the people and the environment”

A social entrepreneur from Eastern Uganda developed his company thanks to an ILO grant. He now provides access to solar energy to local communities.

Reportage | Uganda |
KAMPALA - Caleb Wakhungu is a social entrepreneur who always wanted to help communities in the districts of Mbale, Manafwa and Bududa, all located in Eastern Uganda.

“I needed to act and improve the quality of life of children, youth, women and disadvantaged people living in this rural area affected by poverty, disasters, conflict and diseases,” he said.

His plan was also to enhance care and support through capacity building, income generation, self-help groups, using available resources in ways that benefit both people and the environment.

Wakhungu created a company, Mt. Elgon Self-help Community Project, to make his dream come true. It is located in Bumbo in Manafwa and has offices at Mile Four, along the Mbale - Tororo road.

“Green business competition”

In 2011, Wakhungu took part in the ILO’s “Green Business Competition”. His involvement gave him access to trainings and – last but not least - he was selected as one of the winners. He could develop his business thanks to the grant that he received. His company has since constantly benefitted from different ILO training programmes, including follow-up and mentorship programmes, linkages and connections for business exposure.

“The different trainings have helped me to re-organize our business and align it with the demands of our customers,” he explained.

Also as a result of the different trainings, he was able to submit a proposal to the Australian government seeking financial support to provide safe and clean water to over 10,000 people around Mt. Elgon. A second proposal was also submitted to Heifer International seeking financial support to build 144 biogas digesters for people around Mt. Elgon.

The profits earned from the business are always re-invested in order to keep the project running and to prevent the shortage of funds.

Solar production unit

The company purchased land for the project on which they are now erecting a solar production unit and a house to showcase the benefits of solar energy and biogas.

Despite limited resources, the company has been expanding, employing six full-time staff as well as 15 part-time employees.

Wakhungu is convinced that solar energy can be produced locally for the benefits of the local communities.

“It is all about changing mindsets,” he concluded.

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