6/27/17 – This blog post is written by GSSE MBA venture team Asante Sana. Team members Keni, Matt, and Evan are dedicated to improving rural electrification in Uganda. First things first though, as the team encounters challenges typical of working internationally…
Only 8% of Uganda’s rural population has access to electricity, which means that Uganda is in need of a solution. In order to develop our business plans and help this population we must first gain contextual knowledge of the area. Our goal is to use human centered design to develop a solution for the people we intend to serve.
At the time of this post we had just arrived in Uganda, so our first and foremost concern is gaining contextual knowledge. We are staying at a retreat center owned and operated by our partner, the Global Livingston Institute (GLI). GLI uses their facility as a platform for their development activities. We are one of many teams of researchers staying on site: there are also students here researching agriculture, water/sanitation, and women’s health. All projects implemented by GLI must be sustainable and must add value to the community.
Of course the first challenge we encountered was just getting here. We spent 44 hours traveling to the retreat center, including 4 plane flights, one car ride, one border crossing, and a boat ride across Lake Bunyonyi at 1AM. We learned that Qatar has amazing falafel, although we are slightly concerned about the large statue of a teddy bear in the airport. We also learned that sometimes planes make stops to pick up other customers on the way to their actual destination. Our flights were rerouted half a dozen times before our trip. Matt and Evan would still really like to find their bags.
As crazy as our trip was, we are grateful to be in Uganda and be able to work towards finding solutions for rural electrification. We are excited to be working with our partner in the field. We are especially excited about market day tomorrow. Maybe the boys can buy some clothes to tide them over until their bags arrive.