In 2015, Solar Sister launched its Women and Energy: WE Shine Campaign to build awareness of the transformative impacts that occur when women are empowered at all levels of energy value chains. Solar Sister’s goal when launching the campaign was to reach 5 million people in Tanzania by highlighting the individual stories and voices of women entrepreneurs in its network. A key strategy used by Solar Sister was to engage local communities through radio, working in partnership with Khanga Rue Media, a leading Tanzania communications agency.
Khanga Rue Media specializes in social and behavioral change communication campaigns, especially those targeting rural and hard to reach audiences. Excited about the opportunity to apply their skills to the energy sector for the first time and inspired by Solar Sister’s approach, Khanga Rue Media donated their time and expertise pro-bono.
Radio Reaches the Last Mile
Radio is popular in Tanzania, especially in rural regions where access to televisions and other information sources are limited. Tanzania has an estimated 8 major national radio stations and over 100 local stations. 92% of people in Tanzania report getting their news primarily from radio.
In late 2016 and early 2017, Solar Sister and Khanga Rue Media ran a radio campaign featuring the stories of two entrepreneurs, Fatma Mziray and Esupati Abraham, told by the women themselves. Fatma is a farmer and lives in Mforo Village near Moshi, Tanzania. She joined Solar Sister in order to have a more steady income for her family and recruited other women in her lending group to join as well. Esupati is a nurse in Arusha and distributes solar and clean cooking technologies through her patient networks.
“Every woman would like or wish to have her own House. I have been able to buy a plot of land and am now building my own house after joining the Solar Sister project.” – Esupati Abraham (taken from radio campaign)
Photo Caption: Esupati (pictured to the left), a nurse and Solar Sister entrepreneur, sells lights to her patients and community members near Arusha, Tanzania. Since joining Solar Sister in 2014, she has sold over 1,000 solar and clean cooking products.
Radio Brings Results
The campaign ran for four months through five local and national radio stations in Tanzania, aiming to reach potential Solar Sister entrepreneurs and customers in rural areas. Radio stations were selected based on cost, popularity and reach in the regions where Solar Sister’s network of entrepreneurs is active.
The campaign is estimated to have reached over 5 million women to date (based on GeoPoll data), increasing awareness of the key role women are playing in starting and running clean energy enterprises at all levels. Solar Sister saw increased entrepreneur recruitment, inquiries for further information in the Country’s HQ office and brand recognition in communities where the campaign ran. Solar Sister will continue to track the sales of entrepreneurs recruited through radio to compare this to historical recruitment techniques, evaluating the effectiveness of radio as a recruitment tool for women entrepreneurs.
Photo Caption: As a result of the radio campaign, Solar Sister saw increased recruitment of entrepreneurs in regions of Tanzania where the campaign spots played. Entrepreneurs in these areas reported joining Solar Sister as a result of hearing the radio spots and learning about the business opportunity.
Power of Personal Stories
Solar Sister found radio to be an effective platform for sharing the personal journeys of women entrepreneurs with a large and dispersed audience. For Fatma Mziray, telling her story through her own voice on a national platform was an exciting opportunity and empowering experience. Her story is helping other women to recognize their potential as strong business leaders and change makers in Tanzania.
“When I started getting profit from this project I did not believe that a village woman like me could pay school fees and buy school uniforms for my children. My name is Fatma Mziray. Solar Sister changed my life and other people’s lives as well. At Mforo Mwanga, Kilimanjaro Region people are no longer using paraffin lamps.” – Fatma Mziray (taken from radio campaign)
This campaign was made possible through the support of ENERGIA/Hivos.