Frank Neil Yiga is the CEO and co-founder of Anuel Energy Uganda, a local sales and distribution company that has served about 5,500 households over the last five years. Anuel Energy taps into existing networks of local communities and builds on the vigour and enthusiasm of youth who work as agents to bring solar systems to the last mile customers.
What are typical challenges for last mile distribution companies and for your company?
The biggest challenge of last mile distributors is a mind-set of competition, which stifles collaboration and cooperation. Often start-ups make the same mistakes that another person has already made. The same mind-set also takes away the benefits that could come out of partnerships, which is to reduce the steep learning curve in business and to leverage each other’s networks and contacts to add value to each other. Finance and access to capital is also a big challenge, but it could be overcome by partnerships and collaboration.
Can you tell us about a best practice in terms of collaboration or similar lessons learned from your personal experience?
A part of the journey in entrepreneurship is discovery. Self-discovery as individual entrepreneurs, but also in terms of the company ethos and culture and where you want to go. Sometimes it is important to share your own experience with other entrepreneurs, just to see whether you are on the right path. I’ve collaborated with other solar companies in the ideation stage. This was about sharing ideas but also about handholding so as not to see another enterprise sinking because of mistakes that I already am aware of and that could be avoided. It was also about being a voice of encouragement and of saying: You’re not in it alone, let’s do this journey together!
What are the biggest achievements that you are personally proud of in your journey as an entrepreneur?
That’s difficult… It’s stated by the World Health Organization that a child is only fully safe from child mortality if they clock five years, and the same is true for businesses. Right now, my biggest and proudest moment of my entrepreneurial journey is sustaining a company to five years. I’m happy that we’ve made five years as a company, employing 90% youth. It’s impressive when you meet the people who benefit from our products: 90-year-olds and 16-year-olds alike. It’s magnificent!