Here at rise we focus on economic development through job creation, skills development and entrepreneurship, specifically in the built environment. Linking aspiring local entrepreneurs with essential resources needed in order for their enterprises to flourish.

We are 100% self-funding – every dollar donated goes directly to our social entrepreneurship programs. 

We recruit young university graduates from the built sector and train them through our in loco design & build entrepreneurship fellowship program.  After this, we act as a conduit for them to gain access to market, which they would otherwise be unable to reach as young graduates, with no backing and no proven work experience. We fully support and mentor them through the projects they take on and also support them with a tool loan service. 

The partnership with African Clean Energy is exactly the type of project that our alumni need after the in loco fellowship, to help them kick-start their careers and put all the skills they have learnt to the test. With so much uncertainty in the world and a looming economic crisis, the time feels better than ever for them to take on such a challenging role . 

When you consider that the deaths from COVID-19 are currently over 570,000 worldwide, the figures from Household Air Pollution (HAP) are 7 times higher…. EVERY year!  The figure is also higher than the worldwide deaths from AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis combined!  Most of these deaths are women and are directly caused by the poverty in which around 2.6 billion people globally live. 

People who do not have access to modern clean energy are restricted to using open fire cookstoves which emit high levels of smoke, exposing users to HAP. Without access to electricity these households must resort to buying costly paraffin and candles for lighting, which as well as being costly, are also a major fire hazard. 

As well as the health risks, there is a huge environmental impact from the amount of wood that is cut from an already badly deforested country with serious soil erosion problems. Additionally, there is a negative economic impact on women & girls who spend hours collecting wood each day, reducing their ability to work or go to school. Those who are not able to collect firewood have to pay for wood or coal which are much more expensive than other solutions.  

Thankfully African Clean Energy (ACE), an international social enterprise, has developed an integral energy solution for off-grid communities in low income countries. The ACE One cook stove uses a combination of thermal and electric generation to provide a clean, smokeless cooking experience for its users. The solar-powered electricity it generates can also be used for LED lighting and phone charging, avoiding the need to purchase candles or pay to charge devices and providing the rural population with digital tools to improve their quality of life.

In a project co-funded by the European Union called the “Lesotho Rural Energy Hubs Programme”, ACE is developing a network of 25 hubs for the distribution of renewable energy products across all 10 districts of Lesotho. Through these hubs, ACE will distribute its renewable energy products, foremost the ACE One cook stove, and provide on-site customer and maintenance services as well as an after sales market for additional renewable energy goods. 

The bid to design and build 19 ACE hubs was a big challenge for our alumni. ACE is backed by the EU so there was a lot of due diligence that needed to be done.  In spite of all the challenges, we were excited that several groups of our alumni from 2018 and 2019 in loco fellowship cohorts put their design skills to the test and won the tender.  It goes to show that their design skills, accountability and attention to detail is up to the highest standards! 

The innovative design solution is able to be completely flat packed, so that it can easily be disassembled and transported around ANY part the country. We are also proud that every single part of the build has been assembled locally in Lesotho, from the steel structure shell to the wooden interior and even the solar power for some of the hubs will be installed by the skills building organisation for young local talent from the Bethel Centre in Lesotho

The hubs will not only put clean energy and solar power in the heart of the hardest to reach communities but will enable community members to run them as rural social enterprises. 

The first hub was installed last week as rise alumni rolled up their sleeves putting the technical skills they learnt in the fellowship to the test.  From steel fabrication to window and electrical installation, assembly and carpentry they are doing it all!  As well as working together to practise the softer skills of project management, problem-solving and working within a strict timeline to bring the project in on time!

The sky is the limit for these young entrepreneurs and we can’t wait to see what they achieve next.