Millicent’s challenges and successes to scale up her energy business

Marketing trainings offered to Millicent Akinyi Dula by Practical Action’s Women in Energy Enterprises in Kenya project have not only been a life changing opportunity to her energy business but her life as a whole. The mother of six, who identified product demonstration as an ideal strategy to sell her clean energy business during the pandemic, has been able to secure markets with three secondary schools and a technical institution within Siaya whom she supplies with briquettes on a monthly basis.

Even when the markets are down, at least I am now assured that I will be able to supply these institutions with four bags of briquettes, and this has driven me to keep working hard so that I can grow beyond targeting the four but also establishing more linkages.

After Millicent’s group purchased a motorized briquette making machine, she had hoped that she would start producing forty bags of briquettes by herself monthly but this has not happened due to the high demands channeled by other group members to use the machine. Electricity rationing in the area has also contributed to Millicent’s unsuccessful plans, but she still remains positive and has committed to dedicating such days in promoting her improved cook stoves installation business.

“Since I started working following this system, I have been producing 15 bags of briquettes and doing at least 8 installations, which has resulted in making approximately Ksh. 30,000 (USD 275) a month. Through this I have been inspired to increase my monthly savings in the Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) and also build up on my cassava farming project,” she explains.

Through the WEEK II project, Millicent was also issued with an android powered smartphone and a Covid-19 solidarity fund of Ksh. 8500 (USD 78) which she has already injected in her business. She bought a few pieces of liners and briquette making raw materials which will enable her to produce approximately 20 bags of briquettes going for Ksh. 1500 (USD 13) each. As for the phone, she hopes that with the aid of her grandson, she will be able to advertise her clean energy products on digital platforms so as to attract more customers.

This story has been developed by our partner Practical Action in East Africa as part of our Women’s Economic Empowerment Program.