For most people in Rwanda, electricity is a luxury. Seated just south of the equator, the Rwandan sky is pitch-black each evening at 6pm, and seeing lights glowing from inside a home is a rarity.
In Rwanda, just 11% of people have access to electricity, which means 8 million rural households use smoky, asthma-inducing and inefficient kerosene to light their homes. Without access to reliable energy, children often walk for hours to gather firewood instead of attending school, and adults lack reliable ways to charge the phones that keep them in touch with family or the market. Light for homework becomes prohibitively expensive, and rural hospital power outages put lives in danger.
Rwanda-based Great Lakes Energy (GLE) provides low-cost and environmentally friendly solar energy products that bring electricity to those most in need, but they need your support to improve their reach to the most vulnerable.
Founded by Sam, an American who has been living in Rwanda for the past decade, GLE and its team of Rwandans provides clean electricity to rural consumers, healthcare centers, orphanages and schools throughout Rwanda.
Currently, the team runs its Rwanda-wide operations using outdated paper systems and a few old computers. Up until now, GLE has focused its investments solely on its solar products, improving technologies to drive down costs for their consumers. However, with outdated systems and IT equipment, GLE is struggling to keep up with existing clients and meet the demands of new clients in the larger market.
Right now, when the team installs solar panels at rural hospitals to give doctors access to stable light to perform examinations and patients access to life-saving machines, they plan installations on paper drawings and schedules because their computers are too unreliable to take to the field. Detailed records are extremely difficult to maintain, risking missing vital maintenance checks, which can derail the promise of the solar light. With extra time spent keeping paper records, they are diverting key resources away from spreading access to electricity.
GLE is looking for new funding to purchase much needed IT equipment. This will allow the team to use engineering tablets and notepads to produce real-time drawings and electrical specifications. This increased efficiency will allow GLE to help more Rwandans access power, hire more local labor, and serve their customers more efficiently and accurately.
This business innovation has real impact on people’s lives: supporting GLE means supporting more rural Rwandan families to tap into the benefits of electricity that are still out of reach for too many. With solar, health improves. Education improves. Rwandans save several days of earnings each month on not purchasing CO2-emitting kerosene.
But more than anything else, individual families can access the means to create better lives for themselves and their children.
About African Entrepreneur Collective
African Entrepreneur Collective (AEC) is a business accelerator program that aims to help African youth-led enterprises grow and create new jobs for poor in their communities. This unique, comprehensive program is committed to address the problem of unemployment in Rwanda and to capitalize on the opportunity for sustainable SME growth and fill a demonstrated need in East Africa.
Each year, AEC recruits and selects 100 entrepreneurs to participate in a two-year business accelerator. Once identified through competitive applications, entrepreneurs participate in the Business Training to enhance their business skills. Kiva lenders’ funds are used to impact more entrepreneurs in the country and create more job opportunities.
AEC joined Kiva through our Experimental Partnership Program, and has therefore received a lighter level of due diligence. Accordingly, loans associated with this partner carry a higher level of risk than typical Kiva loans.