How ENVenture is bringing 21st century business skills to rural non-profits


Mukhobeh MosesKhaukha is the Executive Director of Hands of Action Uganda, a not-for-profit registered Community Based Organization working in to improve the lives in Bududa district. This region of Uganda is regularly affected by tragic mud slides, which has plagued the economic development of his community. Moses decided to first improve his community by building a school, in which thousands of children are enrolled. Hands of Action even invented an innovative educational practice for teachers to shout,” gender balance!” when girls were not participating as much as boys in the classroom. However, though Moses was able to tackle child education, he also knew of the systemic problem of lack of electricity, modern fuels for cooking, and clean water in his community; problems that he did not know how to fix.

 Aneri Pradhan (néePatel), the Executive Director of ENVenture, a social enterprise that coachesrural community based organizations to start clean energy businesses, was struck by Moses’s passion and enthusiasm for helping Bududa. She visited Hands of Action with Jane Muganga who runs Friends of Family Organization, another CBO who has benefitted from ENVenture’s program.  It was decided; FOFO would use ENVenture’s loan to pay forward to Hands of Action for them to start their own clean energy business.

Although the funding piece was solved, there was still the question of starting a clean energy business. After all, Moses was not familiar with clean energy technologies and he did not know where to start.  Stepping up to the challenge was ENVenture’s Business Development Fellow Bettina Bergoo, a young professional from the US with a degreein Environmental Studies from Georgetown University. Upon arriving in Bududa, the first thing she noticed is that her own house did not have electricity or running water.

She worked with a provider that brought solar to her roof and she installed a rain water harvesting system. Her home quickly became a mobile charging station for the community! Next,she worked with the provider to install solar on top of the school. Now the schoolchildren could have access to electricity while learning. Embedded in the community, she performed market research, understood financial behaviors of potential customers, and developed a business plan with Moses’s team.  They decided to call their venture Mt. Elgon Clean Energy.

Currently Mt. Elgon Clean Energy has sold thousands of dollars’ worth of clean energy products, is profitable, and is on track to expand with further outside investment. For a community where people earn less than $2 a day, this is an impressive amount of growth.  ENVenture has eight CBO partners across Uganda with plans to scale to two-hundred, thereby creating a community of practice to share lessons, supplier contacts, and other useful information between each other.

ENVenture firmly believes in the power of local communities to be able to solve their own problems in the communities; these communities simply need a hand-up, not a hand-out.

ENVenture is a 501(c)(3) US non-profit with operations in Uganda.  If you are interested in applying for their Business Development Fellowship, please visit

This article is written by Aneri Pradhan, the Founder and Executive Director of ENVenture. You can follow her at @_ENVenture.