Over 96% of rural households in Uganda collect firewood for cooking and heating using traditional three stone fires that are highly inefficient and extremely polluting. This high dependency on wood for cooking fuel coupled with inefficient cooking methods has contributed significantly to the country’s alarming deforestation rate. Between 1990 and 2005 Uganda lost 26.3% of its forest cover and has a current deforestation rate of over 2% per year. The WHO estimates that these highly polluting three stone fires and the resulting indoor air pollution cause 20,000 deaths per year in Uganda.
UpEnergy is currently executing two projects in Uganda: a registered Gold Standard Voluntary cookstove project and a UN Clean Development Mechanism Programme of Activities currently in the late stages of the pre-registration audit. Together, these are UpEnergy’s flagship projects, serving as a proof of concept for UpEnergy’s innovative business model.
The Uganda office was established in October 2011 and is currently home to 16 staff members who coordinate in-country logistics such as importation and warehousing of cookstoves, identification and formalization of sales channels, as well as development of our East Africa brand, SmartHome.
The Uganda team is maximizing the project’s geographic and economic reach through robust distribution channels that are supported by UpEnergy’s operational platform and best in class sales training. UpEnergy achieves scale by leveraging sales relationships with community-based organizations, savings and credit cooperatives, local retailers, and partners such as NGOs and MFIs.
UpEnergy is currently executing its inaugural marketing campaign in Uganda under the SmartHome brand. In addition to producing material for the UpEnergy direct sales operations (SmartHome branded distribution van, sales uniforms, pull-up banners, pushcarts), UpEnergy is also developing marketing material to support retail partners (radio, posters, Stoves-in-Action field manuals).
Marketing Highlight: Radio
UpEnergy is conducting pilot radio campaigns to test the effectiveness of radio advertisements in driving sales in western Uganda.
To listen to the SmartHome Radio Jingle, please click on this link: SmartHome Radio Jingle. To listen to UpEnergy’s Rukiga language radio advertisement, please click on this link: SmartHome Radio: Rukiga. To view an English language script of this ad, please click on this link: Radio Script.
One of UpEnergy’s most successful partnerships in Uganda to date is with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Their focus is on preserving natural forested areas in the Western region of Uganda, which is home to the famous Ugandan mountain gorilla and other ecologically important biodiversity. Local populations in these areas are putting pressure on these forests as they search for wood fuel for cooking and heating purposes.
This collaboration has enabled WWF to generate awareness of the environmental consequences of traditional cooking methods while offering communities a viable alternative through UpEnergy products, which reduce fuel use by up to 60%.
Since the office’s inception in October 2011, the team has experienced tremendous success. As of November 2013, UpEnergy has sold over 22,000 stoves and signed sales agreements with over 30 distribution partners around Uganda. As the distribution network continues to grow, UpEnergy will identify new products for expansion, including water filters and solar lights.