Empowering women with energy

This is story is from our Annual Report 2016-17

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Few rural households in Kenya have access to grid electricity. Most rely on dangerous kerosene for lighting and wood or charcoal for cooking. This lack of modern energy harms the health of women and children and the daily drudgery of fuel collection takes time that could be spent more productively.

The women in energy enterprises project is helping create a self-sustaining industry for cookstoves, briquettes and solar products, working with 730 women who run small businesses.

Improved cookstoves use a third of the fuel of traditional stoves. This saves money and reduces deforestation, fuel collection time and deadly indoor smoke. Compacted briquettes, made from waste materials such as charcoal dust, sawdust or coconut husks, provide affordable fuel which saves valuable wood resources, and is cleaner burning than wood. Solar products range from household lighting to USB battery chargers, offering safe, clean, affordable energy options.

Tabitha Njoki from Kagicha, Chinga, Nyeri County, couldn’t make ends meet for her family as a tailor, so she became a clean energy entrepreneur. Through this project, Tabitha was taught how to install energy efficient to install energy efficient stoves and how to plan and manage a business.

“One day I will be able to distribute many stoves in the region, especially with the marketing skills I have learned from the project. I hope to distribute about 300 stoves a month and earn more income from individual sales. I have also been trained on briquettes making and I am hoping to acquire a machine to start production to diversify my business. I am happy distributing good health, clean air and a greener environment through my business.”

Access to sustainable energy can transform women’s lives. Women often make a highly successful salesforce of energy products. They are able to make use of their social networks and gain a deep understanding of their customers’ lives and circumstances. Women involved as entrepreneurs in the energy business are empowered, gain new status and increased income for their families, while as consumers they gain access to vital energy services.

The project has also increased understanding at county and national levels of the different energy needs of men and women and how these need to be addressed at policy level to ensure investments have a more equitable impact and bring development for all.

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