Saving People from Indoor Air Pollution with a Pay-as-you-go Business Model for Clean Cooking
With an innovative Pay-as you-go business model, Wana Energy Solutions is transforming the market for clean cooking solutions, making it accessible and affordable to everyone in low-income communities in rural Uganda. They are reducing deaths caused by household air pollution while reducing deforestation and creating employment for youth.
Emmy, CEO and managing director of Wana Energy Solutions, grew up in rural Uganda. Just like the other kids in his community, he grew up fetching fire wood for his mother to use as cooking fuel. The household air pollution created from the fire wood had his mother in and out of the hospital multiple times a year.
‘It wasn’t until years later when I became a medical doctor I realized that the fire wood I was collecting as a kid was killing my mother slowly’ – Emmy.
In Uganda, 90 per cent of the population use traditional fuels like fire wood or charcoal as their primary source of energy for cooking, and it is estimated that 20,000 deaths per year is directly attributed to household air pollution. With the mission to improve the lives of women through clean cooking solutions, Emmy and Margaret Nakigudde started Wana Energy Solutions in 2008. They provide Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) to peri-urban low income communities in Uganda, through a door to door marketing and delivery model. They have gone from 45 customers in 2008 to 23,000 in 2018.
While their mission is to improve the lives of women, their business also has a clear environmental impact – reducing deforestation in a country that is losing forest at an alarming rate. Furthermore, a clear goal for the company is to create employment opportunities for youth.
‘Over 70 percent of our employees are youth working as sales agents, distributors or technical staff’ – Emmy
With the opportunity provided through Innovation Against Poverty (IAP), they are taking their business to the next step – striving to make it even more inclusive. LPG is affordable but there are still those who will not be able to afford upfront costs and refilling costs. Using an innovative pay-as-you-go system, commonly used in solar power, they are reaching the people that need it the most. They are currently piloting their ‘pay as you cook’ system with 1,600 customers and they are planning to reach 5000 new customers by the end of 2020
‘We have made it as cheap as we can, making it accessible for anyone. Using a ‘pay as you cook’ system where you pay only for what you use will enable people to buy gas for as little as 3 pence’ – Emmy.