Community champions inspiring local entrepreneurs in Tanzania’s newly electrified villages’

As part of the Rural Electrification Densification Programme (REDP), a partnership between Energy 4 Impact, REA, Multiconsult and Norwegian Embassy in Tanzania, the PUE (the ratio of total amount of energy used by a computer data center facility to the energy delivered to computing equipment ) support is opening up opportunities for the rural grid-connected communities beyond lighting or heating. Businesses in the villages could, for instance, leverage the power of electricity to automate operations and eliminate intensive and time consuming manual tasks.

They could use it to improve efficiency, pursue expansion, diversification or value addition activities. By saving on costs and time associated with manual tools, this would result in productivity improvements, translating into better profit margins.

Some of the potential commercial engagements that can utilise the available power include agro-processing, wood milling, carpentry, chick incubation, sale of cold drinks, among others. Apart from improving rural economies by creating jobs, such activities have the potential to increase electricity consumption, thereby making grid extensions viable for governments or investors.

In an effort to raise awareness about income-earning opportunities that utilise the power connectivity, Energy 4 Impact has been running productive use clinics in the villages of Tanga and Pwani. To ensure full participation of the communities and their leaders, Energy 4 Impact enlisted the help of the PUE champions, who are engaged in several entrepreneurial endeavours, in conducting the awareness events and roadshows.

Three days to the start of the events, the PUE champions, aboard branded trucks, crisscrossed the villages urging residents to be in attendance. They became the trusted go-to persons on topics around PUE. Local authorities, appliance suppliers, community-based organisations and financiers were similarly involved in the events from the outset.

Such collaborative approaches contributed to the success of the events. In total, over 2,700 people in 39 villages were sensitised on new business opportunities that can make use of the new power source.

Apart from showing a PUE video, the mentors staged real-life demos on how to use common electrical appliances such as fridges, juice blenders, hair clippers, hair dryers, fryers (for chips or popcorns).

A total of 201 micro-enterprises and SMEs were recruited to be part of the 300 enterprises that would receive business and mentorship support. Such support will include business case assessments, value chain analysis, financial needs evaluation and linkages with financial institutions.

To effectively support these rural-based entrepreneurs in their productive use endeavours, Energy 4 Impact entered into partnerships with key stakeholders such as the Private Agriculture Sector Support (PASS), an agricultural finance provider.

Through this partnership, agro-processors would be linked to Vision Fund International, which offers micro-finance services to rural communities.

As the PU awareness continues, with support for entrepreneurs taking shape, uptake of electricity for commercial uses in the villages is poised to grow by 15 per cent. Over 250 electrical appliances are to be supplied to entrepreneurs, with 120 loans issued to businesses.

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