Millions of Africans living in the rural areas spend a lot of money on un-clean energy sources. Business owners are affected by the lack of light as they must close at dawn, or spend part of their profits on kerosene to stay open. The deficient effects of inaccessible and poor-quality lighting are significant on the standards of living of most Ugandans especially those in Rural areas.
“YASA is bringing something new to communities in Uganda where conventional energy does not exist. We are lighting the last mile communities in rural Uganda. We do not just bring light to darkened communities, but we bring clean energy to people’s homes, businesses and above all to their hearts” Says David Opio, Founder, YASA
Two years ago, YASA team embarked on an aggressive research to develop sustainable and affordable alternative energy solutions for rural communities that would foster economic growth and improve the standards of living. The outcome of the research was the YASA Quantum Alternative Current Energy Generator which is driven by a motor.
YASA is a local Luganda word that means " lighting". The start-up seeks to revolutionize the renewable energy sector in Uganda and beyond. They offer alternative clean and renewable energy ( AC and DC energy) to help off-grid communities have access to better light and energy they can use to power more gadgets and operate businesses.
The startup induces motion through the use of motors and the alternator to produce energy. They have an exciter which they have designed and developed locally. The role of the component is to facilitate self-charging of the batteries that support the motor from the same generator.
YASA is able to produce 50 KVA and above, giving enough affordable power to business owners at a relatively cheaper price. They are not hindered by weather changes like solar equipment and their quantum generators do not use fuel.
They coil most of the important components like alternators and motors in Uganda so the cost of production is low. They also offer free street light and free power to churches, police stations, hospitals, clinic, and mosques.
The startup has two categories of customers that they have singled out in a community. The ordinary/home customer. These are the kind of customers that only need to use the energy for lighting, phone charging and watching Television.
The other category is the business owner. This is a customer who wants to use power for income generation. It could be using a fridge, video libraries, cinema halls, among others.
The startup charges a one-off connection fee of 150,000 UGX (about $42) for the business customer segment and they pay a daily fee of 3000 UGX about $0.82 per day for power rent. The ordinary customer segment (households) pay a connection fee of 50,000UGX (about $14) and power usage fees of 2000 UGX (about $0.55/day).
Currently, the startup has two min-grid fully working in two different communities. Since January 2018, they have managed to register 700 clients and have so far managed to connect 200 clients to the min-grid who’re actively paying. Out of the 700 registered customers, 250 are ordinary clients while 450 are business customers.
Early this year, YASA was selected to participate in Traction camp, iHub's accelerator program that connects entrepreneurswith the knowledge, capital, and access to markets they need to grow.
“The program was a mind rejuvenating in terms of winning selfless team support, developing an inclusive elevator pitch, dealing with team dynamics, raising investment among other things. I found Traction Camp more profound to a growing start-up like mine”. Opio
The startup has been invited to the USA, Seattle by Fledge to showcase their innovation to a group of investors, including Bill Gates and Melinda.
“We believe this is an important opportunity to demo our product on a global scale”. Opio
YASA is not Opio’s first Startup. He founded Ensibuuko in 2012 after graduating with a Bachelor's degree in Quantum Economic from Makerere University. Ensibuuko is a cloud-based micro-finance software for community-level financial entities in Africa.
“Ensibuuko taught me the art of doing business. It was my failure point. The mistakes that I made while at Ensibuuko made me a better entrepreneur and a fighter in the startup industry”. Opio
"Failure is part of the entrepreneurship journey.I have failed a lot during my 7 years of entrepreneurship. I have rashly made decisions that have come back to bit me. I remember one day I was asked to deliver an elevator pitch in front of a very corporate audience. I thought I would kill it. I thought I knew every detail of my business but I was wrong. When the time came to deliver the pitch, I struggled like a baby learning to walk. I didn't know how to start and how to end. I failed at my own game. Later on, I realized that I never practiced. I learned that never take things for granted. To be successful you have to invest an equivalent of what you expect. Success is earned but not given. Failures have taught me to be a better person, to look at things differently. That when you fail, it’s not the end of the world, pick yourself up and move forward”. Opio
Opio believes5 years from now, YASA will be the leading provider of affordable and sustainable alternative clean energy to 80% off-grid communities in Africa and beyond. He hopes to achieve this milestone through franchising the product to reputable companies in Uganda and different countries in Africa. YASA wants to be on the top of the game in the energy industry, giving their customers something new and disruptive.
To learn more about YASA, visit their website - www.yasauganda.com or follow them on twitter @YASAUganda