Elisabeth and Peter Nyeko, two Ugandans graduated from the United Kingdom, have returned to their mother country to start their biogas start-up (Madulis Energy) from the agricultural waste of rice and maize, according to a principle of circular economy.
Mandulis Energy is a startup producing gas from the biomass of local agricultural. This gas, transformed into electricity, for a power of 250 kW, will feed 1,500 farms within a radius of 5 km around Nwoya, in northern Uganda. In addition, non-converted residues become biochar briquettes. “Not only do we allow farmers to process their corn and rice production locally, which provides them with better income, but we also provide them with access to affordable energy. Our project solves several problems at once, ” said Elisabeth Nyeko (Co-founder).
A Model for Sustainable and Scalable Social Enterprise
According to Peter Nyeko, “even a social enterprise must be income-generating in order to survive even without subsidy,” the brother and sister do not hope to reach balance before four years working on Madulis Energy. They should have launched 16 installations of 500 kW each throughout Uganda and reached 20 000 homes, more than 100 000 people. “We will then be able to transpose our model in Rwanda, in Tanzania, but also in countries like Vietnam and Cambodia, which face the same difficulties of access to the energy of their rural and poor population”, they estimate.
While waiting to get profits, the duo can count on many supports: the Royal Norwegian Society for Development, which provided them their first machine, the Unctad, the Vatican through its competition of environmental start-ups Laudato Si ‘Challenge or the Ugandan government, which provided them with scholarships and operational support. This has allowed Mandulis Energy to raise $ 2.5 million (in grants, loans, and private equity). The start-up was also distinguished by the MIT via the selection of the 35 under 35.
On May 25, at VivaTech, the Nyeko also won the Viva Technology Africa Tech Blockchain for Energy Prize, which will allow them to work with Total and Vinci Energies on a blockchain project in energy distribution. “But here too, there is the question of access and price. Without even talking about the internet, it is sometimes difficult to get the phone! This complicates enormously our existence as a start-up and our development “, regrets Elisabeth Nieko.