Energy for Livelihoods Accelerator in East Africa

Energy for Livelihoods Accelerator in East Africa

The Problem

The majority of people living in poverty are rural, young, and lack access to affordable, reliable, and sustainable electricity⁠—a major impediment to rising out of poverty. In addition to the significant environmental impact that sustainable energy access brings, the socio-economic benefits are far-reaching: it has the potential to more than double incomes by saving time and fuel costs, improving farm yields, and enhancing resilience. With climate change creating more uncertainty in vulnerable communities, self-sustaining income is more important than ever.

In 2022, Acumen launched its Pioneer Energy Investment Initiative (PEII+) to supercharge a critical component in the global energy transition, Productive Use of Energy (PUE) technologies powered by sustainable energy.
Our Energy for Livelihoods Accelerator spun out of this initiative, and after successfully running the program in India, we are now launching Energy for Livelihoods East Africa.

The program is designed to accelerate a cohort of early-stage social enterprises using clean energy and energy-efficient solutions to enhance job creation and income generation for low-income communities.

Delivered by Acumen Academy, the Energy for Livelihoods accelerator aims to build an ecosystem of locally-led scalable social enterprises across East Africa committed to improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers, small businesses, and micro-entrepreneurs.

Through the program, participants will develop and refine a scalable business model that has the potential to transform the lives of low-income people while conserving resources and protecting the environment.

Learn How To

  • Develop, refine, and test key hypotheses for how your enterprise can scale

  • Make data-driven decisions by gathering customer insights

  • Learn ways to communicate and demonstrate your social and environmental impact

  • Improve your financial sustainability through isolating and testing your organization’s revenue, cost and investment assumptions

  • Refine your value proposition and develop marketing, sales, and pricing strategies that work for low-income customers

  • Develop the hard-edged leadership skills needed to build better, truly inclusive, sustainable solutions

    Who is Qualified to Apply?

    This accelerator is open to social entrepreneurs who:

    Run a for-profit social enterprise in East Africa (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Rwanda), using sustainable energy and energy-efficient solutions to positively impact the livelihoods of low-income people, through one of the following models/sectors:

  • Agriculture & Allied sector - companies with clean energy solutions throughout the agriculture value chain to improve farm incomes/productivity or reduce costs and labour for smallholder farmers.

  • Energy for micro-entrepreneurs - companies enabling clean energy & energy-efficient solutions for businesses that reduce costs or unlock new business opportunities, for example in cooling, cooking, transport, or manufacturing.

  • Business enablers – companies providing supplementary services for enabling clean energy transition, including but not limited to distribution and financing solutions, skills development, data tools, and market-building approaches for farmers and businesses.

    Additionally, all applicants should have:

  • Local founding team members.

  • A deep commitment to the work of tackling poverty and
    injustice and an interest in being part of a global community bound by values.

  • An operational track record of 12 months or more with existing customers. Preference will be given to companies who achieved >$40,000 in revenue in the last 12 months.

  • Able to demonstrate impact in job creation/enhancing income generation and reducing emissions.

  • A team with relevant sector experience and three or more full-time staff. Ideal candidates will have 5+ years of professional work experience.

    How it Works

    Through 12 weeks of structured programming, you will learn the essentials for building a business model that can achieve both social and environmental impact and profitability. You will dive into a curriculum leveraging Acumen’s learnings, expertise in energy investment, and pioneering moral leadership practices, and leave with the competence and character needed to build solutions that improve the livelihoods of low-income communities.

    Taking part will provide you with unique access to a supportive network of peers, facilitators, and mentors who will share constructive feedback, encouragement, and opportunities to profile your work and accelerate you toward scale.

    In addition to developing the essential skills needed to build your business model, cohort members who fulfill all program commitments will be eligible to apply for a share of $50,000 and possible inclusion in Acumen’s PEII+ investment initiative.

    Entrepreneurs who graduate from the program will be welcomed into Acumen Academy’s global community, The Foundry.

    Graduate Into the Acumen Academy Foundry

    After participants complete the program they join The Foundry, a global community designed to increase the impact of 1600+ highly effective social innovators as they grow and scale solutions to poverty and build a world based on dignity.

    Foundry members are a community of like-minded peers from diverse backgrounds who are working across sectors and around the world to tackle the most difficult challenges of our time. They are leaders committed to sharing ideas and experiences, and as Foundry members they gain life-long accompaniment on their journey to creating social change.

    Foundry members gain exclusive access to:

  • Community: A diverse regional and global community of social innovators

  • Early-stage funding: Early-stage catalytic capital through Acumen Angels

  • Mentoring: Expert coaching and consulting from our partners

  • Visibility: Opportunities to reach more ideal customers, talent, and funders

  • Learning Hub: The tools of business to grow and scale your organization

    How to Apply

    For more information and job application details, see; Energy for Livelihoods Accelerator in East Africa

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