What happens when you empower women with solar energy?

by | Oct 5, 2017

Consider for a moment your daily activities — charging your phone, turning on the lights at night, cooking dinner — all of these conveniences require something pretty important: electricity. Electricity powers our everyday lives. But in many parts of rural East Africa, electricity is few and far between. In Tanzania, it’s estimated that 70 percent of people lack electricity. How can this problem be addressed? Our new partner, Solar Sister, has an answer: women and solar energy.

“Women are the key to change,” says Solar Sister, a nonprofit seeking to end energy poverty in Uganda, Nigeria, and Tanzania through solar energy technology. One Day’s Wages is starting a new partnership with Solar Sister in Tanzania to enable 60 women to become entrepreneurs by selling clean energy products like solar lamps and fuel-efficient stoves to their communities.

Currently, the main source of energy in Tanzania is kerosene, which can be costly and bad for the environment. And most cooking stoves  use firewood, which emit smoke that can be toxic when inhaled on a daily basis.

The women hired by Solar Sister will be provided with clean energy products, business and leadership training, as well as marketing materials. Through their businesses, they will impact an estimated 10,000 people in their communities with these life-changing products.

“I feel happy to be a strong, powerful business woman who can support myself,” says Rose, a participant in the program and single mother of 11 children. She manages a fruit and meat business and sells solar lanterns once a week.

Maria, another participant and co-member of a local savings group, remarked, “Most women are responsible for the family and home care. Solar Sister makes paying those expenses easier.”

The benefits of clean energy are enormous. Solar lanterns and fuel-efficient stoves remove the health risk of fumes emitted from kerosene and firewood. They also provide energy at an affordable rate. With access to light, children do better in school because they have more time at night to do homework. And businesses are able to stay open longer, increasing people’s income.

“The men are happy. We are all happy.” says Fatuma, a Solar Sister entrepreneur. “This business has added to our income. We feel like we have reached the next stage of development.”

Through the work of Solar Sister, energy poverty is being improved in Tanzania, and women are being empowered through entrepreneurship.

If you would like to contribute to this project, you can make a gift here.


Jessinia Ruff is an ODW Blog Contributer.

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