Hundreds of Tanzanian women are gaining financial independence by supplying renewable solar energy utensils to their friends and relatives in the rural areas.
With the help of Solar Sister, a social enterprise established to help women learn about sustainable energy and participate in its expansion, these women have become solar evangelists and entrepreneurs in their rural communities.
“We’re deliberately including women as part of the clean-energy chain and really changing the narrative from ‘oh, these poor women, they are victims’ to women as change agents,” Neha Misra, a co-founder of Solar Sister, told E&E News.
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How Does It Work?
Currently operating in Tanzania, Uganda and Nigeria, the Solar Sister project was established to empower African women with knowledge about the benefits of using clean energy.
The project also provides rural women in Africa with an opportunity to earn a living by selling a catalog of solar energy and clean cooking stove equipment within communities that do not have access to electricity.
Solar Sister enables women to make a profit by negotiating with the manufacturer on their behalf as well as giving them continuous mentoring and training. Each product is tailored to specific needs of the intended consumer to guarantee quick sales.
Speaking to the Guardian on Saturday, Hilaria Paschal, a Solar Sister entrepreneur, said she has already sold solar products to more than 1,000 customers, earning her enough money to pay school fees for her children and to expand her basket weaving business.
Paschal is now mentoring other Tanzanian women keen on gaining economic freedom.
Women and Renewable Energy in Africa
UN’s Industrial Development Organization argues that women in Africa and other developing countries shoulder the biggest responsibility in terms of supplying energy to communities and households.
They are the ones who labor all day collecting firewood and walking long distances to buy kerosene, not to mention the fact that they are the ones who suffer most from inhaling harmful fumes when preparing food.
It is for these reasons that Solar Sister and many other related projects are committed to empowering women in Africa by tapping into their entrepreneurial potential and community knowledge with the hope of increasing access to clean energy.
“Women can play a critical role in making this happen. We are targeting women because we know we will succeed,” Wanjira Mathai, the director of wPOWER Hub, told the Guardian.