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Lighting the Path to Opportunity

"My father always told me to focus on my vision and passion, and I’ve found that when you focus on something you’re passionate about, you’ll be able to define your path, navigate the worst, and build your dream."

Elizabeth Nyeko was raised in a home centered around learning and service. At an early age, she watched her parents open a school in their local community, providing education to those who would otherwise not have access.

Despite civil war that forced her family’s move to Sudan, Elizabeth never lost sight of her desire to make a positive impact on her community. Along the way, she discovered deep compassion from the suffering she witnessed, and with that inspiration, decided to pursue a career in medicine and joined Oxford University.

While studying in college, Elizabeth launched a project that led to the construction of a school and brought computers to underserved children in Uganda, with the hopes of making IT skills development more accessible. When she arrived to the school in Uganda, she realized there was no electricity, rendering any computer useless to the students she hoped to help.

As Elizabeth was coming to the realization that 80% of Uganda’s population — more than 11 million people — is off the grid, her brother, Peter, an aerospace engineer, was seeking a career change. It was the perfect time for the pair to study electrical engineering together.

The rest is history.

Elizabeth and Peter founded Mandulis Energy, an electricity company in Uganda with a unique business model – individual farmers bring their crops to Mandulis’ power plant, which the team processes into higher value consumer products for sale at supermarkets and retail outlets.

This immediately doubles the farmers’ incomes. Through their unique use of gasification technology, Elizabeth and her brother turn the waste from farmers’ crops into electricity and a clean cooking fuel that burns smoke-free.

With modern technology and a desire to do good, Elizabeth has leveraged partnerships with governments and other organizations, creating pathways to deliver energy security, alongside food security, climate resilience, and economic development in rural farming communities.

Most recently, Elizabeth has received funding from the Harambe Entrepreneur Alliance, which Cisco supports. Harambe is a nonprofit organization spearheading high-impact social and business ventures across Africa via a network of highly educated young African entrepreneurs.

When asked at what advice she’d give to young women at Cisco’s Women of Impact Conference, Elizabeth recounted words from her father:

“He always told me to focus on my vision and passion, and I’ve found that when you focus on something you’re passionate about — and are clear about your mission — you’ll be able to define your path, navigate the worst, and build your dream.”

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