Customized Solar in Uganda with
Waringa Matindi (Village Energy)

In this episode, we speak with Waringa Matindi, CEO of Village Energy, a Ugandan company providing custom solar installations for rural businesses, institutions & agriculture that enable improved incomes, job creation, and access to services. We speak about Waringa’s experience as a new CEO, how gender equality interacts with energy access, the cultural differences between Kenya and Uganda, and even blockchain and cryptocurrency!

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Show notes and related resources

Village Energy: company website

Podcast Summary

Show notes:

  • (1:10) Waringa's background in the development sector, gender equality, and her desire to work in reducing poverty. The focus of Village Energy in increasing revenues and incomes

  • (3:30) Village Energy's focus on customised installations for productive energy use; working mostly with businesses (schools, SMEs, health centers)

  • (6:30) Most of their customers are off-grid, replacing diesel generators; some customers are looking for greater reliability

  • (7:40) The use of remote monitoring to ensure the solar system is being used correctly, not being overused and reducing the quality of the battery; can provide alerts for upcoming payments

  • (10:51) Village Energy's hub and spoke model: the need for local offices to build trust with customers, provide reliability and engagement with customers

  • (14:20) Waringa's experience becoming a new CEO; the contrast of working in business vs. the development, non-profit sector. The social impact of Village Energy's work in changing the lives of their customers

  • (18:20) Village Energy's business model as fully for-profit, however some customers find additional sources of funding from grant sources; schools and health centers which are able to provide better services due to access to electricity. The benefits of street lighting to provide greater safety

  • (21:15) Their experience with Binance Foundation, installing solar for schools - working with cryptocurrency

  • (25:15) The contrast between Kenyans and Ugandans: Kenyans being more straightforward and direct; Ugandans being very polite and kind

  • (30:30) The interconnection between gender and development, and energy access: the importance of gender and equality, dirty cooking fuel's impact on women; the ability for energy access to provide additional income for women; the lack of DC productive use appliances that are focused on women's needs

  • (37:00) Their goals for the coming years, to grow their current business; to install 1,200 systems

  • (38:40) The impact of the solar off-grid sector

  • (39:40) The need for patience in the solar sector

  • (40:00) The need to make difficult decisions earlier

  • (41:10) Recommended books: The Hard Thing about Hard Things, by Ben Horowitz; Building a Cash Cow in Kenya by Nat Robinson; How Will You Measure Your Life by Clayton Christensen

  • (43:30) Their excitement about Li-ion technology that will enable the solar sector to change and improve their business model