Solar Sister and wPOWER Continue Partnership to Scale Women’s Clean Energy Entrepreneurship

December 12, 2016 | News | Press |

Solar Sister is excited to announce a new phase of its partnership with the U.S. Department of State. As part of the Partnership on Women’s Entrepreneurship in Renewables (wPOWER), Solar Sister will work to double its network of clean energy entrepreneurs from 2,500 to 5,000 by the year 2020.

The wPOWER initiative, launched by the US Department of State in 2013, aims to unlock women’s potential to address climate change by empowering women entrepreneurs to deliver clean energy access in hard to reach communities around the world. wPOWER, modeled after many of Solar Sister’s core principles, has trained more than 4,700 entrepreneurs and brought solar and clean cooking solutions to 2.2 million people. To date, wPOWER has committed $9 million in funding to organizations like Solar Sister to help reach its goal of empowering 8,000 women clean energy entrepreneurs and providing energy access to 3.5 million people.

“Solar Sister is emblematic of the vision of the Partnership on Women’s Entrepreneurship in Renewables (wPOWER). Thanks to Solar Sister’s mentorship and training, communities that previously relied on inefficient, environmentally damaging, and unhealthy fuel wood, charcoal, and kerosene are adopting clean and affordable zero-emissions solar products. Solar Sister’s growing network of entrepreneurs is providing new sources of clean energy, helping protect our planet and empowering women to be leaders in the economic and energy transformation.”– Jonathan Pershing, Special Envoy for Climate Change

In 2013, Solar Sister received a $1 million grant from wPOWER to scale its operations across Nigeria and Tanzania. With that initial investment, Solar Sister recruited 1,561 entrepreneurs and brought clean energy access to 600,000 people living in rural, last mile communities. Solar Sister also partnered with the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) to strengthen its impact tracking tools. In 2015, ICRW conducted an extensive qualitative assessment of Solar Sister’s model in Tanzania which demonstrated the range of positive impacts being a Solar Sister entrepreneur has on a woman’s life, her household, and her community. The report can be found here.

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Solar Sister entrepreneur Fatma Mziray in the Mforo village of Tanzania. Fatma discovered that when she hung her solar lamp up on a tree near the cows, the hyenas stayed away.  

Building off of the success of the first wPOWER project, Solar Sister recently received an additional $750,000 wPOWER grant to grow its women-centered last mile distribution chain for portable solar and clean cooking solutions and improve climate change mitigation in rural communities. Over the next two years, Solar Sister aims to recruit an additional 1,000 grassroots entrepreneurs across Uganda, Nigeria and Tanzania and deliver clean energy access to over 500,000 beneficiaries.

“We applaud wPOWER Partnership member, Solar Sister, for the support from the US State Department that will allow them to continue leading the way in investing in women’s leadership in the solar revolution.” – Wanjira Mathai, Director of Partnerships for Women Entrepreneurs in Renewables and Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace & Environmental Studies 

To meet this strategic goal, Solar Sister is working with industry experts and bringing in new wPOWER institutional partners to:

  • Address financial barriers women face in assessing clean energy driven economic opportunities by partnering with Project Concern International in Tanzania and Women for Women International in Nigeria.
  • Build Public Awareness in collaboration with leading behavior change and marketing communication partner TBWA/Khanga Rue in Tanzania.
  • Grow the evidence base for the impact of women’s energy entrepreneurship through a research project led by MIT’s Comprehensive Initiative on Technology Evaluation (CITE).

Solar Sister and its partners are excited to move forward in partnership with wPOWER in order to amplify its impact and increase women’s access to clean energy driven economic opportunities. If you are interested in learning more about Solar Sister’s program and getting involved, please reach out to Solar Sister at info@solarsister.org or visit its website at solarsister.org.

By Fid Thompson

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