Brick by Brick: Kigozi navigates the highs and lows of running his family’s solar business 

Brick by Brick: Kigozi navigates the highs and lows of running his family’s solar business 

In 2018, Jude Kigozi was ready to steer the family- owned solar business forward, after his father went into early retirement. Youthful and full of vigor, Kigozi saw it as a career defining moment for him.  

The company- LUK Solar Limited is a family social enterprise that was established in 2015 by Kigozi’s father, Mr. John Baptist Walusimbi and two German partners- Kurt Zügner and Lisa Zügner. The company’s business hinges on being a last-mile distributor of solar products and services.  

Kigozi spent three years at LUK Solar growing under the ‘wings’ of his father and mastering his craft in the solar business. He saw a bright future ahead. But as fate would have it, Covid – 19 hit in 2020, and things fell apart like the acts in Chinua Achebe’s novel.  

“Covid-19 affected us because we work with farmers and women groups. They were not gathering anymore and yet they had acquired solar equipment on a lease basis, he says, “It was a setback because we had already stocked solar equipment and we had suppliers to pay.”   

Kigozi turned to loans to meet some of the business obligations.  

“We had to write off over 400 million of stock which we couldn’t recover as money from clients. Some of the clients who were refugees had already moved back to Sudan. We also had to engage in more borrowing to buffer up our capital levels and recover the business,” he recounts.  

A turning point  

Kigozi has recovered the family business steadily along with his German founding partner, and one of his key turning points has been to attend an intensive thirteen-week AgriSolar program at The Innovation Village (TIV) in Ntinda, Kampala.   

The AgriSolar Product Accelerator program is a product development and refinement journey designed for solution providers building use cases and incorporating solar technologies across the agriculture value chains of Diary, Aquaculture and Horticulture.  

The purpose is to empower solution providers with the tools and skills that they need to scale their solutions.   

The two-year program is supported by Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and aims to mainstream use of solar technologies in agriculture by supporting solution providers to identify, validate, test and scale unique financing models. This will result in over 100 solutions being adopted and 10,000 jobs created across the various AgriSolar value chains.  

Picking interest 

Kigozi picked interest after a friend working at the Innovation Village introduced him to the program during a meeting. Two of his staff colleagues also signed up for the program.  

“We had five meetings which were physical, and we also had coaches and mentors who trained us online,” he recalls.  

Kigozi says the beauty about the programme is its experiential nature allowing business innovators and solution providers to showcase their solar use cases to deal with horticulture, aquaculture and dairy farming.  

“It was an experiential learning for me, the things I learnt were how to make a pitch deck and facilitators came in handy to help us construct business model canvas,” he says.  

He adds: – “I realised I can collaborate with other innovators in the room. During that training, we wrote a proposal and submitted it to GIZ, and I’m happy to tell you that we won the grant with another partner- Adebo Cosmas.”   

Kigozo together with Adebo, who is also a beneficiary of the program, are finalising plans to take solar home systems to refugee camps in Obongi District.  

“Before the training we had few use cases, we thought only dairy farmers could use it but now know it can be used in other areas to do with fruits and other perishable products,” Kigozi remarks.  

LUK SOLAR’s Nature of Business  

LUK Solar is involved in the importation, sales, solar system customization, last mile distribution and installation of solar energy products to majorly beyond the grid underserved low-cost communities, refugee settlement districts, rural schools, households as well as health centres with solar solutions.  

The company also offers training in different kinds of solar-related activities like solar installation, maintenance and after-sales service to the clients and beneficiaries creating awareness of sustainable and reliable energy.  

As a “last mile distributor,” the company’s product range includes, Pico Photovoltaic solar household systems, grid independent solar fridges, modular and scalable solar school systems, and Direct Current Power Bricks Solar Lights System, Solar TVs and Screens plus solar generators for running health centres and schools under the PUEs (Productive Use of Energy). 

It operates in over 30 off-grid districts across Uganda with permanent sales staff who we call (Solar Scouts). These include; Luwero, Arua, Busia, Alebtong, Kasese, Pakwach, Yumbe, Kitgum, Obongi, Mpigi, Nebbi, Mbale, and Terego among others.  

“These individuals (Solar Scouts) are vital links between our products and the communities in need, they also offer customer care, after-sales service and warranty services as well as waste management services to our customers,” Kigozi explains. 

Business Scale 

LUK Solar Ltd has for the last 6 years supplied and installed over 10,000 scalable solar home systems to over 20 villages without electricity. And recently in the last 12 months, over 105 solar school systems have been set up in similar communities.  

“These customers have scaled our modular solar systems to upgrade to productive use of solar systems which now power their health centres such as Kibanga Health Centre which has promoted sustainability and reliability,” Kigozi explains. 

Currently, the company runs Tier 2 products for Productive Use of Energy. Among these are solar fridges and solar lighting for health centres and Zimpertec solar generators for reliable running of a health center.  

 Kigozi says the company has sold 17 solar fridges to schools and healthcare centres in the districts of Kayunga, Lyantonde, Luwero, and Pakwach. These are used by healthcare centre owners to preserve their medical supplies and school owners for the school canteens.  

The company’s solar distribution has also extended to supporting women groups with solar products in the districts of Luweero and Pakwach with most of the use cases supporting women in business. 

At company level, Kigozi has supplied 5 e-bikes and e-cargo bikes with the Zimpertec LSX solar charging stations to his solar scouts and agents in areas of Luweero and Kayunga to help the scouts navigate the remote areas with less difficulty in movements. 


LUK Solar has experience with PAYGO models for solar products; since 2019, the company has tracked all its lease financing and PayGo products using Solaris off-grid’s PayGops software  

The software tracks the solar products using the proprietary platform for both PayGo and Non-PayGo.  

The same system is used to connect the products to the payments’ platforms and banks from individual customer accounts and it is integrated with all local telecoms for SMS and Mobile money gateways.  

 “We automatically register payments and generate tokens to activate our clients’ solar systems, and these are sent over WhatsApp and text messages,” Kigozi explains.  

Kigozi says his team developed an online dashboard to track the performance of field agents (the solar scouts) for number of leads created number of new clients’ prospects registered and other presales and after sales features, customer care, offering after-sales services, such as raising tickets, to track issues related to the system or payments. 

Estimated turnover value  

Kigozi says the company’s estimated average annual turnover for the last 2 financial years is valued at UGX 250 million, and 30 employees in distribution and managerial roles.  

E- waste policy   

The company has also set commitments to environmental sustainability which extends to responsible e-waste disposal and recycling outlining key processes such as collection of used batteries for future recycling; also, new batteries are provided at no cost within the 2+-year guarantee period and at a nominal fee afterward.  

Gender inclusivity  

Kigozi says the company takes gender inclusivity at heart which is well stipulated in the Sustainable Development Goal 5- which aims to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.  

 As a result, the company partnered with the Smart Girls Foundation training centre based in Wakiso District under the ‘Girls with Tools program to train girls and women in solar product handling and services who graduate with the Directorate of Industrial Training qualification certificates. 

 Planned Expansion  

Looking ahead, and with the already awarded grant from the Private Sector Foundation Uganda – and GiZ EndeV, Kigozi is now seeking to extend solar products and services to refugees’ communities in districts of Adjumani, Kiryandongo, Lamwo, and Koboko. 


The solar business is now seeking funding of EUR 50,000 to scale its logistics, marketing and business development where it seeks to introduce a solar freezer to farmers.  

“I want the Innovation Village to follow up and see the impact so far on ground. I will be glad. They should encourage more collaboration, working, and synergies like breakfast meetings with other colleagues for us to thrive more, Kigozi says in his parting shot.