Village Energy is the first company in East Africa to build a branded franchise solar technician network to repair, service and sell solar systems. The enterprise provides young men and women with training, setup support, inventory and marketing. It is building up a regional servicing and distribution network that will increase rural solar energy access and adoption while promoting technical entrepreneurship.
Village Energy recruits local mobile telephone repairers as franchisees and provides solar technician training at the community level. In contrast to other sales-only solar companies in the region, the enterprise enters the market by first repairing broken devices.
Its ability to work across brands and technologies, the development of multiple revenue streams such as phone charging and lamp rentals, and the commitment to repair much faster than other solar traders enable the enterprise to cost-effectively work directly at the village level.
The proliferation of solar energy is spanning almost 100 villages so far, resulting in an estimated decrease of carbon emissions and indoor air pollution by 25%.
- Test the business performance of current franchise locations in comparison to an alternative model of shops owned and operated by the company itself for the first year, with the goal to expand from six to 21 shops by the end of 2015.
- Pilot a model to include young female graduates of vocational institutes, where the women start as employed shop managers and will be given the option to convert to independent franchisees after one year.
- Establish partnerships with solar manufacturers to provide in-warranty repair services in the field, saving them time, money, and brand reputation.
- Implement and test phone charging and lamp rentals, and pay-as-you-go solar lanterns as viable business models at all presently launched locations.