Kakembo Galabuzi Brian: Empowering Uganda’s Youth and Women in Clean Cooking
Kakembo Galabuzi Brian is the Executive Director WEYE Clean Energy, a social enterprise empowering youth and women to start and run clean cooking businesses. He is also part of the steering committee of the Commonwealth Sustainable Energy Transition Action Group under the Commonwealth Youth Sustainable Urbanization Network.
The Clean Cooking Alliance (CCA) interviewed Brian about his experiences navigating the clean cooking ecosystem as a youth leader.
This story is part of a series featuring youth leaders from across the clean cooking sector.
CCA: How did your interest in clean cooking begin?
Kakembo: In 2015, I attended the International Student Energy Summit in Bali, Indonesia. On the Changemakers panel, young people were creating unique energy projects and, in turn, changing the lives of people in their communities. This inspired me to dig deep into my community to find out what the most pressing energy issue was.
For the majority of women and children in Uganda, the need for clean cooking was very evident. Studies showed that over 90% of Ugandan households used wood fuel indoors with inefficient stove technology. This led to high rates of indoor air pollution, impacting women and children who are most exposed to the smoke in kitchens.
To address this challenge, I started the Waste to Energy Youth Project, which later I registered as WEYE Clean Energy Company. It is a social enterprise that is empowering youth and women to start and run micro, small, and medium size clean cooking businesses. At WEYE, we also produce and supply briquette fuels and institutional briquette cookstoves.
CCA: What barriers do youth face to act upon increasing clean cooking access?
Kakembo: The biggest barrier is lack of adequate information. I believe that we must first get young people interested in the clean cooking space. Then, we must provide them with the much-needed information, skills, and career opportunities, and when necessary, provide funding for their innovative ideas.
CCA: What opportunities are necessary for empowering youth to meaningfully engage in the clean cooking sector?
Kakembo: We need to build an enabling environment for youth to learn, understand, and develop passion for the clean cooking sector. There needs to be innovative engagement mechanisms, like clean cooking-specific study tours in lower education, tailored practical courses, and internship and training opportunities. This would help expose today’s youth to various aspects within the clean cooking sector.
CCA: Why is it important to involve youth in multi-stakeholder and intergenerational dialogues and decision-making processes?
Kakembo: As our population grows and energy demand increases, there is a need to accelerate innovation. By nature, youth are energic, vibrant, and inquisitive, which is a good recipe for innovation. As human beings we age, and at some point, expire, which is part of our life cycle. It is critical for the survival of our species to have succession plans to secure our future. It is fundamental that young people are involved in these processes so that they are empowered to take over when the time comes.
CCA: What three pieces of advice would you give to youth in clean cooking?
Kakembo: The most important lesson I have learned along the way is to never stop learning. From learning the changing needs of your customers to the changing technologies and economic conditions, it’s crucial to keep learning. Information is one of the most powerful tools for any entrepreneur, especially in the clean cooking space.
The three pieces of advice I have for youth are: firstly, invest in continuous learning; secondly, invest in networking and relationship management, especially for young social entrepreneurs; and thirdly, do not forget to invest in your mental and physical well-being.