In a record Six weeks, Next Generation Utility Company, BBOXX in partnership with Practical Action electrified 1500 households in Three refugee settlement camps of Kigeme, Nyabiheke & Gihembe and is now gearing up for more partnerships with different organizations in a bid to reach out to populations in remote areas with renewable and affordable energy solutions.
BBOXX kicked off its first “Business to Business” (B2B) partnership this year with Practical Action, an innovation charity bringing together rural communities, displaced people, energy providers and decision-makers to put sustainable, clean energy solutions to work for the people who need them most. This was done under the Renewable Energy for Refugees (RE4R) project, a four-year scheme that delivers renewable energy solutions in humanitarian settings at subsidized prices and working directly with refugees and host communities.
Through this partnership, Practical Action (PA) offered subsidies for refugees across three 3 camps as an enabler for people to improve their lives. Using its upcountry retail shops to stream energy products to households, as well as helping them in the installation processes, BBOXX was able to successfully execute this partnership.
Ikizanye Ngabire, a beneficiary of this partnership expressed relief that she no longer has to worry about burning the house down.
“Before acquiring a BBOXX system, the only way my family could light was through the use of candles, which posed a risk to both our health and lives. The only way we could get light at night was with a candle and I was always worried that one child might forget to blow it out and cause a fire but that worry is no more,” she said.
She added that the relatively high cost of kerosene, and even candles, meant that her family would often have to spend nights in the dark, depending on the state of the family budget citing that the cost of solar-powered electricity is considerably lower than alternative lighting sources.
Denise Umubyeyi, the Country Manager of Practical Action told The New Times in an interview how the project is changing lives among refugees, giving them better standards of living, and improving businesses in host communities.
“Energy is very important in communities. For these refugees, being able to have lighting at home helps give them a dignified life; their children are able to read books at night, and the adults are able to continue with their work even at night using the lights provided to them,” she said.
Umubyeyi adds that the project makes the neighbourhoods safer due to the lighting provided, a development that businesses
leverage on to work in night hours and make more gains. “Energy fuels business, fuels health, fuels safety and security, and other general conditions of the people,” she said.
Speaking about the company’s venture into B2B partnerships, John Uwizeye, BBOXX’s Head of Retail Operations said that it presents an opportunity for organisations to give back to communities.
“It is a win-win situation. For BBOXX, the B2B ventures enable us to get easy access to larger groups of customers; and organizations partnering with us also benefit by being able to make an impact to communities,” he said.
He added that BBOXX is looking to scale up its B2B partnerships by working with more organisations to provide access to electricity.
“We are looking forward to scaling it up. In our partnership with Practical Action, we were able to electrify 1500 households in a record six (6) weeks, accomplishing a task that could have taken a year. With the success of this project, I can confidently say that we are able to implement more partnerships with other organisations that want to give back to communities,” he said.
Uwizeye further added that under the RE4R project, BBOXX managed to electrify a large number of homes in a short period because of the company’s good coverage of the country.
“We have good coverage of the country. Our shops are in close proximity with customers and they are equipped with capable teams to oversee every step of the process, from signing up as a customer to the installation process,” he said.
BBOXX Rwanda is a leading Next Generation Utility that seeks to transform lives and unlock potential through provision of affordable, clean energy solutions to Rwandans. With over 80,000 customers countrywide & a network of 25 shops, our ultimate goal is to enable a rural customer to live a healthier, wealthier and more productive future.