Social impact entrepreneurs in Uganda

In just a few weeks, a number of high impact entrepreneurs will meet in Kampala, Uganda, to nurture and grow their products, their companies and their bottom lines.  The source of the wisdom and inspiration for this growth is Unreasonable East Africa, a spinoff of the Unreasonable Institute which has brewed entrepreneurial success stories in the US for several years.  It’s “unreasonable” because these are all social entrepreneurs — each has a mission to improve the world around them while making their business a success. All of these are early stage companies but each has some revenue to date which indicates some degree of viability. Bookmark their websites and follow up later.  Some of these are going to be big success stories!


Eco Fuels Kenya (Kenya) produces and sells biofuel and organic fertilizers made from the Croton Nut. They pay community members to collect the nut, which grows indigenously across East Africa and has no other use. Their products are environmentally sustainable both through no-waste, low-energy manufacturing and the restoration of organic matter in the soil where the fertilizer is used. Eco Fuels Kenya has sold over 10,000 liters of biofuel and 100 tons of organic fertilizer since inception in March 2012.


Forever Sanitation (Uganda) uses unique equipment to empty latrine pits in low-income areas that are not generally accessible by larger waste removal services or where other methods of waste removal are not affordable. By enabling the reuse of latrine pits, that would otherwise go unused once full, proper waste disposal is encouraged, creating a healthier environment with a reduced risk of diseases such as cholera and dysentery. Forever Sanitation has helped provide better sanitation for over 250 households around Kampala.


Geel Enterprises (Uganda) provides quality healthcare services by qualified healthcare personnel in a 24/7 hospital. By increasing access to reliable, affordable healthcare, especially urgent-care, Geel works to reduce the rate of preventable deaths in Eastern Uganda and Western Kenya. In the 2 ½ years since their inception, Geel Enterprises has evolved from a small clinic to a hospital offering a diverse set of medical services uncommon in the region. Some of these services include radiology, pre-natal, dental, orthopedic, gynecology and physio-therapy.


Grab A Book (Kenya) helps children in rural areas and slums improve their performance in school by establishing school libraries. With increased access to age-appropriate books, as well as Grab A Book’s library activities, children are encouraged not only to learn, but also to enjoy reading and writing. To support setting up the libraries, Grab A Book authors and sells branded children’s books in local languages. They have successfully set up 2 libraries since their founding in May 2013, and are in the early stages of earning revenue and raising funding.


Green Bio Energy (Uganda) sells fuel efficient cook-stoves and carbonized biomass briquettes, a cheap and environmentally-friendly substitute to traditional charcoal. In addition, they offer consultancy services and training in micro-entrepreneurship and briquette production. So far, they have reduced over 400 customers’ energy bills by a cumulative US $30,000.


KadAfrica (Uganda) sells high-quality passion fruit seedlings bundled with agribusiness training, support, and bulk marketing to smallholder farmers, primarily women and girls, in Western Uganda. As Uganda’s largest passion fruit farm, KadAfrica provides a unique training environment where farmers can learn about passion fruit year-round. They help smallholders market and transport their passion fruit for a minimal cost by combining it with their own harvest. KadAfrica is currently working with 965 out of school girls to establish their own passion fruit farms.


I-Care Pads (Kenya) produces and sells high quality, reusable sanitary pads in Kenya. In addition, they provide Menstrual Hygiene Management training to break the taboo around menstruation, reproductive and sexual health. The affordable pads and training allow women and girls, who previously have missed work and school during their periods, to feel comfortable and continuously engage in their normal activities. To date, I-Care Pads has sold over 6000 pads, and decreased the percentage of girls missing school by at least 30%.


Jibu (Uganda) empowers entrepreneurs to launch profitable businesses that sell affordable, clean water. Entrepreneurs are provided with a “business-in-a-box” that includes advanced water filtration systems, refillable bottles and packaging, point of sale systems, and branding, as well as extensive training on all aspects of running a business.  In addition, Jibu enables these entrepreneurs to make their water prices affordable for the bottom 10% of the market through water subsidies funded by donors and carbon credits. At this point, Jibu has launched 4 water businesses.


Juabar (Tanzania) creates small business opportunities in Tanzanian communities that lack electricity by leasing solar-powered charging kiosks to entrepreneurs and then supporting these entrepreneurs in their operations. Once in the Juabar network, franchisees have the opportunity to grow their businesses through accessing finance to increase their kiosk’s energy generation capacity and/or by adding solar product and lifestyle goods retail distribution. Juabar established 11 franchises.


Smart Life (Kenya) sells affordable, clean drinking water, along with wellness products (health, hygiene, nutrition) to low-income families through retail locations and a subscription service. They also aim to educate their customers through information campaigns focused on clean and healthy living. In less than a year of operation, SmartLife has sales of over 88,000 liters of water.


SunCulture (Kenya) designs and sells solar-powered irrigation systems and agricultural services that make it cheaper and easier for farmers in Kenya to grow high-value fresh fruits and vegetables. SunCulture’s Agro Solar Irrigation Kit efficiently moves natural sources of water to crops, eliminating the need for expensive fuel, grid electricity, or arduous manual pumping and delivering water to crops only when necessary. Farmers currently using the SunCulture AgroSolar Irrigation Kit are generating a cumulative $628,830 in economic benefit annually.


Telesat International (Uganda) creates opportunities for self-employment through market-demand driven practical skills trainings.  They have guided many people, especially the unemployed and underprivileged,  to create  their own businesses by enhancing public awareness about low startup cost entrepreneurship opportunities, helping workers select projects, providing skills trainings. In addition, Telesat International supports workers post-training by facilitating access to market information, marketing strategies, and project inputs such as raw materials, machinery and equipment. Because of their extensive market connections, they also deal in industrial chemicals, machinery and equipment to a small degree.  Since inception in 2006,  approximately 40,000 East Africans have have benefited from Telesat International’s services.


Village Energy Limited (Uganda) assembles and distributes solar energy systems for households, small businesses and institutions in rural areas without electricity. Following sales, they place a heavy emphasis on post-sales customer care, to prevent customers from reverting back to the use of dangerous and inefficient energy systems if a solar system breaks. Village Energy Limited recruits and trains community-based electricians to become solar technicians distributing, installing and repairing their energy systems in communities they serve. Since they started operations in September 2010, they have reached a combined total of over 4,000 households, small business and institutions with their services.


Wana Energy Solutions (Uganda) sells affordable gas cooking systems for homes and businesses, which come with delivery, installation, and safety training. The gas is cleaner, less expensive and more environmentally friendly than other common fuels such as charcoal and firewood thus saving its users from indoor air pollution and its ill effects. Cooking with gas also saves time for women, some of which Wana also employs to distribute its products within communities. Since the start of 2008, Wana has built a customer base of over 4,000 households who are on average saving about 25% on cooking fuel costs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *