International Law firm, Hogan Lovells, in partnership with SEED and Barefoot College, have launched an initiative seeking to address the UN Sustainable Development Goals, particularly access to clean energy.

The project is targeted at start-ups that are significantly improving the lives of women and girls, particularly those that focus on gender equality or female empowerment from developing countries.

To this end, the Hogan Lovells Community Solar Innovation Awards, implemented by Adelphi, was born out of this collaboration.

The 2018 SEED South Africa Symposium in Pretoria held an award ceremony on Thursday after having received over 280 applications across 53 countries, 54% of which were youth (under age 35) and 42% of which were female led.

10 winning enterprises and financial award winners were selected by an independent international judging panel.

Uganda’s Village Capital was named winner of the $10,000 financial award and other winners are listed here.

This is a validation that our hard work over the years is finally being recognized globally. This prize will really help us to increase the vocational training we are providing to rural youth and women. – Abu Musuuza Co-Founder & CEO

They want to develop rural businesses which continue to be neglected, train them, finance them and really get them to be more productive.

Village Energy, founded in 2009, is a last-mile distributer of customized solar installations that enable productive use of energy for businesses, agriculture and community institutions. Through PayGo financing, remote monitoring, and on-site servicing through our network of branches and technicians, we de-risk solar adoption for rural customers, leading to improved livelihoods, job creation, and access to services.

All winners will receive a tailor-made business support package including: up to $30,000 pro-bono legal advice; peer networking; one-on-one support and mentorship to develop business and financial plans; and support from SEED to replicate their business model in other regions around the world.