Refine and prepare to scale your sustainable energy business and transform the livelihoods of low-income communities in East Africa.
The majority of people living in poverty are rural, young, and lack access to affordable, reliable, and sustainable electricity—a major impediment to rising out of poverty. In addition to the significant environmental impact that sustainable energy access brings, the socio-economic benefits are far-reaching: it has the potential to more than double incomes by saving time and fuel costs, improving farm yields, and enhancing resilience. With climate change creating more uncertainty in vulnerable communities, self-sustaining income is more important than ever.
In 2022, Acumen launched its Pioneer Energy Investment Initiative (PEII+) to supercharge a critical component in the global energy transition, Productive Use of Energy (PUE) technologies powered by sustainable energy. Our Energy for Livelihoods Accelerator spun out of this initiative, and after successfully running the program in India, we are now launching Energy for Livelihoods East Africa. The program is designed to accelerate a cohort of early-stage social enterprises using clean energy and energy-efficient solutions to enhance job creation and income generation for low-income communities.
Delivered by Acumen Academy, the Energy for Livelihoods accelerator aims to build an ecosystem of locally-led scalable social enterprises across East Africa committed to improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers, small businesses, and micro-entrepreneurs. Through the program, participants will develop and refine a scalable business model that has the potential to transform the lives of low-income people while conserving resources and protecting the environment.
This accelerator is open to social entrepreneurs who:
Run a for-profit social enterprise in East Africa (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Rwanda), using sustainable energy and energy-efficient solutions to positively impact the livelihoods of low-income people, through one of the following models/sectors:
Additionally, all applicants should have:
Through 12 weeks of structured programming, you will learn the essentials for building a business model that can achieve both social and environmental impact and profitability. You will dive into a curriculum leveraging Acumen’s learnings, expertise in energy investment, and pioneering moral leadership practices, and leave with the competence and character needed to build solutions that improve the livelihoods of low-income communities.
Taking part will provide you with unique access to a supportive network of peers, facilitators, and mentors who will share constructive feedback, encouragement, and opportunities to profile your work and accelerate you toward scale.
In addition to developing the essential skills needed to build your business model, cohort members who fulfill all program commitments will be eligible to apply for a share of $50,000 and possible inclusion in Acumen’s PEII+ investment initiative.
Entrepreneurs who graduate from the program will be welcomed into Acumen Academy’s global community, The Foundry.
After participants complete the program they join The Foundry, a global community designed to increase the impact of 1600+ highly effective social innovators as they grow and scale solutions to poverty and build a world based on dignity. Foundry members are a community of like-minded peers from diverse backgrounds who are working across sectors and around the world to tackle the most difficult challenges of our time. They are leaders committed to sharing ideas and experiences, and as Foundry members they gain life-long accompaniment on their journey to creating social change.
Foundry members gain exclusive access to:
You should expect to dedicate between 5-8 hours per week on the accelerator. The program is an active learning experience and through reviewing curriculum materials, completing assignments, and engaging in reflective conversations with peers and the Acumen team, you will arrive at new insights for your business.
Additionally there will be an in-person component to the program; a leadership seminar hosted at the end of the program in Nairobi. Acumen will support all cohort members to attend and will cover travel and accommodation for this seminar event. International travel may be required depending on your location, in which case a valid passport is a requirement.
One founder can join the program as the lead participant and must commit to all program sessions. Your wider team (up to 10 people maximum) can access the online curriculum materials. A co-founder or another member of your senior leadership team may also join all 1:1 calls.
Determine the best next steps to reach financial sustainability.
Change more lives, faster, by focusing on activities that work.
Tap into the expertise of peers—and Acumen—to solve problems in real-time.
Build meaningful relationships with a community of like-minded social innovators.
How to Qualify
All applications will be reviewed once the application deadline passes. If you are selected for an interview, a member of the Acumen team will reach out to schedule a 45-minute video call with you on the Zoom platform.
The curriculum focuses on preparing to scale and the program is designed for enterprises with some market traction and a team equivalent to at least three full-time staff members. The program is not relevant for startups who are still in the idea validation stage or those who have already secured Series A funding.
When and Where
Most of the assignments can be completed online at your own pace before the submission date every week. You will be expected to participate live during the weekly 2-hour Learning Lab sessions. The calls with the Acumen team can be scheduled at times that are mutually convenient for you and your facilitator.
Since we focus on leadership development as well as enterprise development we ask that just one individual from each enterprise attends the program. This person must be a Founder or CEO.
Acumen Academy is the world’s school for social change. Our mission is to unleash a new generation of social innovators and leaders with the character and competence to build a more just, inclusive, and sustainable world. Blending the best of online and offline learning, we offer anyone, anywhere access to the practical tools, practices, resources, and supportive community they need to achieve positive social change. The Acumen Academy community represents a new generation of social innovators and leaders committed to doing what’s right in a world that loves easy.
Learn more at www.acumenacademy.org.
Acumen's Pioneer Energy Investment Initiative: Powering Livelihoods Using Solar (PEII+) is a 5-year, $25 million dollar initiative that invests early-stage capital in companies that provide renewable energy-powered appliances–from mills and irrigation pumps to electric motorbikes and refrigerators–to microentrepreneurs and smallholder farmers in India and East and West Africa. The goal is to leverage these technologies to boost incomes and climate resilience in vulnerable communities. PEII+ is supported by the IKEA Foundation, Autodesk Foundation, Distributed Power Fund, and UK Aid from the UK government via the Transforming Energy Access (TEA) platform. PEII+ is also strategically aligned with the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet (GEAPP) commitments in India and East and West Africa.