How it all began
Building on the success of three pilot kiosks established around Lake Victoria by the OSRAM company and the Global Nature Fund, three organizations joined forces in 2011 to develop the project further with the support of the European Union and Siemens Stiftung. As well as expanding the three existing kiosks, they decided to build additional solar kiosks at five new locations – four by Lake Victoria and one on a tea farm in the heart of the country. In addition to its role in promoting the project, Siemens Stiftung decided to offer training and continuing education programs around the WE!Hubs.
What has been achieved since the program began?
· Existing hubs expanded with new equipment
The existing hubs have expanded with computer rooms and many new, improved products. The hubs have also introduced a bar code system that enables them to monitor the products they lease out, such as batteries and lamps. This means the hubs can regularly recharge the equipment and protect it from wearing out too early. The first Internet cafe successfully opened in Mbita in September 2013.
· Entrepreneurship training and mentoring program launched
Training now takes place regularly on entrepreneurship, business management, interpersonal skills, customer service and financial management, as well as on handling information and using communications media. This is followed by a six-month mentoring and coaching program that accompanies the trainees on their path to becoming successful entrepreneurs. The program has trained some 200 self-employed and young people in Mbita alone. In order to tailor the training even more closely to the needs of microenterprises, the hubs have developed a continuing education program especially for women, along with a program for young professionals. This aims not only to help them be successful in self-employment, but also to create job opportunities for the local population. Local businesses now also make lively use of the new Internet cafe: purchasing stock online, for example, to save time and money, and gaining new customers via the Internet.
· Newly built WE!Hubs opened in Honge and Kericho
The first newly built Water-Energy Hub was ceremonially opened in Honge, a fishing village by Lake Victoria, on March 10, 2014. The local population celebrated this event together with representatives from the organizations involved: Light for Life, the Global Nature Fund, OSRAM, Thames Electricals, Siemens Stiftung and the European Union. It offers access to renewable energy, clean drinking water, computers and the Internet, and also provides the opportunity to take part in training and continuing education programs, giving people in Honge new opportunities for the future. The WE!Hub on a tea plantation in Kericho opened its doors in the same month. The WE!Hubs in Sori, Ragwe and Homa Bay opened in the course of 2015.
· Previous data and facts
At our eight WE!Hubs over 335.296 liters of drinking water could be sold to the public until now. Furthermore humans decided over 104.217 times to recharge their leased batteries at the WE!Hubs instead of using biomass like kerosene or diesel. That is not only delightful for kiosk operators and consumers, but also for the environment and nature.
Currently we are in a transition period, it is planned that the eight open and fully equipped solar stations will become operationally and financially independent.
“I have been working for the WE!Hub project since it began four years ago. What I value most is the protection of the environment through the use of renewable energies and the job opportunities for the local population.”
Stephen Agola, Regional Technical Manager, Light for Life
The WE!Hubs open up new opportunities for fishermen and their families. As well as innovative products that protect not only the environment, but people's health and the money in their pockets too, the communities also benefit from educational opportunities that they are otherwise denied in these remote regions.”
Mary Nduiga, Team Manager, Light for Life
“The entrepreneurship training launched together with the Kenyatta University School of Business creates further role models whose success stories can motivate entire communities and engender economic and social transformation.”
Wamuyu Mahinda, founder and CEO of Kenyan business mentoring network, The Youth Banner