Solar Skills and Training
with Jay Patel
(Enlight Institute)

In this episode, we speak with Jay Patel from Enlight Institute. Enlight provide skills and training services for solar professionals in Uganda and East Africa.

Listen to us on Apple Podcast, Red Circle, Spotify, Stitcher or your favourite podcast streaming platform!

Show notes and related resources

Enlight Institute: company webpage

Village Energy: company webpage

Podcast Summary

We discuss:

  • Uganda's energy and solar landscape

  • Enlight Institute's training provision and its growing focus on soft skills training

  • The human capital challenges faced by many solar companies

  • Enlight's business model and social mission

  • Enlight's approach to coaching as a form for employee training and development

Show notes:

  • (0:55) Jay Patel's background and how he came to work in Uganda and solar industry, following his time at Google's sales team

  • (3:05) Introduction to Enlight, the need for human capital, and Enlight's development of a solar academy

  • (5:08) Overview of Uganda, and the energy and solar industry in Uganda

  • (11:40) The transition of the off-grid sector from impact and philanthropy, to commercial and private sector; the challenges and dilemmas for the sector in reaching the poorest in society

  • (15:35) Enlight's evolution from focusing on technical skills to soft skills and on-the-job training; the need for human capital in the solar industry, and the social cost of the lack of training

  • (20:50) The shift in go-to-market strategy from individual youths, to working directly with companies and training their team

  • (24:55) Enlight based in Uganda, but looking further afield

  • (26:00) Technical training overview

  • (28:13) Enlight's business model, their use of grant funding and longer-term aim of profitable job coaching

  • (30:40) The challenges around high staff turnover in the sector, due to lack of training, or cultural issues

  • (31:55) Enlight's team and recruitment approach, from Acumen's fellows etc.

  • (34:20) Vertical integration vs. value chain fragmentation within the solar sector

  • (36:05) Challenges of financing in the solar sector

  • (39:13) Growing Enlight's business and using data to prove the value of on-the-job coaching

  • (41:00) Jay's recommended books and sources: Green Energy for a Billion Poor; Sun Connect News; Next Billion

  • (42:00) Advice for new entrepreneurs looking to enter the space: start engaging with the community and think about where you can add value

  • (44:15) Prediction for the next 5 years: the distinction between on-grid and off-grid will start to breakdown