You know that rolex guy near home or in town? Well, he no longer has to suffer with KCCA taking his stove or use a candle when the sky goes dark and the moon is in fade. With Musana Carts, a solar street vending revolution has been kick started.
Musana Carts is an innovation by Natalie Bitature, 26, Manon Lavaud, 24, and Keisuke ‘Kei’ Kubota, 29, all students of Hult International Business School in San Francisco. They came up with the innovation using Uganda as a case study as they entered the annual Hultz prize competition, which has a US 1 million dollar top prize. The Hult prize is meant to force students into thinking out of the box by coming up with ideas that impact society, and also by changing the way many entrepreneurs tackle business today.
Musana translates to ‘Sun’ in Luganda. Musana Carts is a two-wheeled cart with a solar panel roof, permitting the mobile vendors to cook and refrigerate their products as they go about their work. Through providing clean energy, and saving cooking time, the innovation is set to double the income of many street vendors and will also create about 300 jobs. ” In one year alone, Musana Carts will save 3000 tonnes of carbon emissions and reduce the thousands annual smoke related deaths in Uganda.”- talk about environment conservation.
Musana Carts is designed to help and make the workload of street vendors easier so as to produce clean quality induced goods and services, particularly your average ‘rolex’ guy. Tackling the major constraint of poor access to energy infrastructure which leads to low profitability which is then compounded by operating illegally within the system, Musana Carts is built to help street vendors maneuver through it all.
“In 2015 The Virgin Group published a study declaring Uganda as the most entrepreneurial country in the world, yet 95% of our population lives on less than $5 a day. We need to double this income to pull ourselves and our comrades out of poverty. Uganda also has one of the fastest growing populations in the world, meeting the food demand is a real challenge for our generation. In the crowded urban space of Kampala many people get their meals from street vendors,” they explained.
Furthermore, to ease vending with Musana Carts, the Musana Carts team is in partnership with Kampala City Council Authority [KCCA] hence each Musana Carts vendor will be awarded a Musana Carts license which will allow the vendor (s) to operate freely within the designated zones of the busy urban area.
More so, the Bitature and her team realised that very few vendors might have the capacity to pay for the carts upfront so, they partnered with Fenix International which will provide each cart with a solar system and loan management program to vendors so they can buy a cart in small installments owning it within a year.
They are also working with Design without Borders, a company creating sustainable solutions to improve living conditions and livelihoods in Uganda, Briketi Stoves, a company making stoves [GBE Briketi Eco-Stoves ] that are specifically designed to reduce the quantity of charcoal or briquettes needed to cook a meal hence reducing the amount of harmful gases released into the environment, and PEDN a Ugandan education NGO offering training to equip the vendors with financial literacy and business skills.
With Musana Carts, Uganda’s street vendors now have a chance to lead a fulfilling life, saved from being chased by KCCA and also providing their customers with clean goods, and services as well as conserving the environment through the use of clean energy.