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Financing for Impact: Powering Change in Northern Uganda with Solar

With CLASP's financing support, POPO Africa, is bringing transformative solar energy services to off-grid communities in Northern Uganda, enhancing healthcare, supporting small businesses, and promoting women's economic empowerment.

Siena Hacker, Lisa Kahuthu

Appliances Supporting Life-Saving Health Facilities

The Rhino Camp is a refugee settlement camp in Northern Uganda. Within the camp is the Ofua Health Center 3, a solar-powered medical facility with just two doctors attending to a population of over 45,000 people. Dr. Gideon Anguerini highlights a pressing challenge: the center’s reliance on a single, energy-inefficient fridge unsuitable for solar power. The health center aims to purchase an efficient solar-powered fridge from POPO Africa, an appliance distributor based in Uganda. With the fridge, the health center’s services will be expanded, its energy costs significantly lowered and it can treat more patients.

Ofua Health Center 3 at Rhino refugee camp, Uganda
Dr. Gideon Anguerini, one of the staff at the health center

Delivering Change through Solar Solutions

From the outset, POPO Africa’s vision aimed at enhancing maternal health by ensuring that clinics in refugee camps had reliable solar lighting powered by solar battery packs. This expanded, as the company moved into leasing the battery packs to the wider community.

POPO’s solar batteries are a lifeline for community businesses, enabling them to operate after dark, offer phone charging services, and more. With 54 distribution points across five districts, POPO’s impact is widespread, directly employing 75 people and indirectly supporting many more through their distribution network. POPO Africa also places a strong emphasis on women’s economic empowerment, boasting a workforce that is 70% female.

A POPO Africa battery distribution point
POPO Africa staff with Ruth Kimani, Senior Associate, CLASP

Recognizing the critical need for cooling services POPO aimed to revolutionize the off-grid cold chain service in Northern Uganda. The only barrier to this was capital constraints. POPO could not pursue the cold chain opportunity without external support. With funding from CLASP’s Productive Use Financing Facility, POPO was able to start selling solar-powered refrigerators, that will benefit healthcare facilities and empower local businesses.

Transformative, Impactful Financing

Efficient productive-use appliances (PUAs) like solar-powered refrigerators, pumps, and milling machines can have transformative effects on local communities, small businesses, and the environment. However, despite their potential for income generation, PUA sales remain remarkably low in emerging markets due to their relatively high upfront costs and a lack of access to finance. CLASP set up the Productive Use Financing Facility to address these challenges by helping distribution companies like POPO Africa sell their products at lower prices.

Overcoming Capital Constraints

With CLASP’s Facility’s procurement subsidies and capacity-building grant, POPO is working to sell approximately 140 refrigerators within a year. They have made that transformative step into the cold chain market and are now extending affordable, off-grid cooling to their customers, like the Ofua Health Center.

Dr. Gideon Anguerini with one of the older refrigeration units at the Rhino Camp Health Center

With each solar-powered battery and refrigerator, POPO is helping to build a future where energy is accessible, businesses thrive, and healthcare advances, even in the most remote corners of the world.

 

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CLASP is proud to be coordinating the Productive Use Financing Facility, supported by The Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet (GEAPP). By supporting businesses like POPO Africa, CLASP ensures more transformative appliances are made accessible to those who need them the most. Find out more about the Facility.

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