Energy Empowers East Africa

Energy Empowers East Africa is a joint effort of USAID- Berkeley Lab, designed to empower women to develop and expand income-generating activities by providing training, shared experiences, and improving access to efficient and productive electric equipment (PUE). The program focuses on increasing the efficient productive use of energy in small and medium-sized enterprises run by women.

This program aims to increase the inclusion of women in electrification programs throughout East Africa, beginning with Uganda, as the project pilot in year 1.

Survey Research

In collaboration with USAID, and the local implementing partner in Uganda, Clean Energy Enthusiasts (CEE), LBNL has been undertaking a series of activities in 2022-2023 to increase the inclusion of women in electrification programs, through understanding and creating opportunities for efficient and productive use of energy in business settings. In the first half of the project, the team focused on building tools and undertaking a participatory survey in 8 districts in the country to capture baseline data on the state of electrification and electricity access in women-run business premises.

After undertaking an identification study in the country, a series of focus group discussions capturing the local perspective, the team conducted the survey involving:

  • 578 participants (small-medium, women-owned businesses in urban and peri-urban areas) across 8 districts in Uganda;
  • 38 financial institutions to understand challenges and opportunities in the access to finance component;
  • 22 local vendors to understand market constraints and opportunities for PUE equipment.


Some of the main survey findings confirm:

  • Low PUE adoptions in many women-led businesses, but high interest in efficient electric appliances, such as refrigerators  (double door and chest freezers), juice extractorshair dryerselectric kettlesphotocopiers and printers, and electric sewing machines.
  • Additionally, the survey found that business skills are inadequate and businesswomen in Uganda would benefit from educational training on PUE, business development, financial management, access to capital, and business networks and associations.

Capacity Building

Data and insights from the survey drove the second phase of the project implementation, the project team developed customized training materials and presentations. Training were attended by 30 participants per district accounting for 241 trained businesswomen in total. The goal here is to build women’s capacity to develop income-generating activities by using efficient and productive electric equipment and by creating women’s self-help networks. Trainings are a week long and include demonstration of efficient electric equipment, group discussions, handholding exercise on business plan development, site visits, and presentations from special guests on success stories.

Matchmaking Events

The team also organizes matchmaking events to provide the opportunity to bring together women entrepreneurs, financing houses, equipment vendors, utility officers, government officials from the Ministries of Gender and Energy, women groups associations, and entrepreneurial support programs. These events provide a venue for women entrepreneurs to find resources and present their business plans to financing institutions to help them grow their businesses. The program also offers small grants as seed funding for investment in efficient and productive equipment.

National Campaign

The team has started preparing for the third phase of the project implementation, developing a national campaign to support women to use electricity in their businesses to generate income. The project is tapping into the existing institutional frameworks, and it is partnering with various stakeholders in this area to push for electrification programs, with an emphasis on PUE and energy efficiency. The objective is to provide recommendations on actions that will unlock the benefits of modern energy access for women and enhance their role as agents of change in promoting clean, affordable, and efficient energy use.

© 2020 Energy Technologies Area, Berkeley Lab