Judith's success selling solar products

Judith Adhiambo lives with her husband and children in Siaya County in Western Kenya.  She used to make a small income by selling fruit in the market. But she made very little profit and sometimes even a loss, because any fruit she didn't sell would go off and she would have to throw it away. It was hard work and she had to travel a long way to fetch the fruit.

The Women Energy Entrepreneurs project gave her the opportunity to make a better life for herself and her family. Following training from the project in business management, empowerment and book keeping, she is now running a successful business selling solar lights and solar home systems. Her income has increased significantly from around 1500 Shillings (£11) a week to 2550 Shillings (£19). 

Still only 27 years old, and with young children to care for as well as twins under a year old. Judith in enthusiastic and ambitious for her business. Thanks to her empowerment training she is now able to assert proudly,  “A woman is just as good as a man.”

She has invested the money she has made in building a house for her family and in a small plot of land where she grows maize and beans. When her children are a bit older and she has more spare time, Judith wants to get a small shop space or a stall near the market centre to set up all her solar products, instead of taking them around to her customers.

Find out how you can help train more women like Judith

But success has not only brought a better life for Judith and her family. The benefits also spread into her community.

She now has two employees who are learning from her about selling solar products and also making an income for themselves.  Plus there is the benefit for the people buying her products. Instead of using smoky, dangerous paraffin lamps her customers have clean, bright solar lighting.  Their houses are cleaner and free of smoke. And after the initial outlay for the solar lamp, the energy to run it it free so they also save money.

Although she has the support of her husband, who is very happy about my business as it brings food to the table, it has not all been plain sailing. Some of her family feel that her only job should be looking after her home and family. But this is not deterring Judith, who says.

"My family is not proud of me because of my development. I keep growing my business. I still feel good, I am doing it for my children.”

Mentoring plays a key role

A mentoring system helps to make this work sustainable by providing the ongoing support that women need when working in a new business. Margaret Odero is one of these mentors.  She recruits women to participate in the training and gives them support to set up and run their business so they have someone with whom they can discuss their problems as well as share their successes.  

Margaret feels strongly about the need to empower the women in her community.

"It makes me feel good to make a difference in a woman’s life. Culturally, preference is given to boy children. This continues into marriage – girls usually marry very early. We live in a patriarchal society, they think that women belong in the kitchen. In colleges, there are 35 in a class and only 10 of them are women."

"Empowerment is key. The women looked at themselves and it gave them courage and self-esteem. I can see that they now have a brighter future."

Women energy entrepreneurs

We are empowering women in Kenya to enable them to benefit from sustainable energy opportunities, both as entrepreneurs earning an income and as consumers with access to safe, sustainable energy solutions for their homes. This project is using a markets approach to build a self-sustaining industr...

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