Women energy entrepreneurs

The problem

Women in Kenya face inequality in many areas of their lives. Not only do they undertake most of the household chores, care for the family but many also run small businesses to make ends meet. A lack of education, training opportunities and finance make it difficult for women to make sufficient income to meet their basic needs.

Few rural households in Kenya have access to grid electricity. Most still use 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.

Practical Action is addressing both these issues in an innovative programme to help women develop businesses for energy products and offer consumers access to safe, sustainable energy products for their homes,

What we’re doing to help

Objective: Supporting women's economic empowerment through clean energy enterprise development

Women energy entrepreneurs in Kenya (Phase 2)

Location: Murang’a, Nyeri, Nakuru, Kakamega, Kisumu, Siaya and Nairobi, Kenya
Number of beneficiaries: 642 women entrepreneurs reaching out to 364,200 consumers
Project date: January 2019 - December 2022
Partners: Sustainable Community Development Services (SCODE)
Principal funders: Energia, Swedish International Development Agency

Access to sustainable energy can transform women’s lives. We are working with women across Kenya to help them develop clean energy enterprises. By providing training in business skills and planning, access to market information, networks and finance, women  able to develop profitable businesses manufacturing and selling cookstoves, briquettes and solar products. 

The benefits are multiple. When women are involved as entrepreneurs in the energy business, consumers gain access to vital energy services, women are empowered by running their own business and their families benefit from the increased income.

Improved cookstoves use a third of the fuel of traditional stoves, saving money and reducing deforestation. They also reduce indoor air pollution, improving health. Briquettes use waste materials like charcoal dust, sawdust and other household biomass waste like coconut husks, which are compacted and can then be used in stoves, providing an affordable technology that is a safe and a cleaner energy source than firewood. The solar products range from household lighting to USB battery chargers, offering a range of safe, clean and affordable energy options. 

Activities include:

  • Entrepreneurship development/mentoring and job creation
  • Training in product development, marketing and business management
  • Building market links to kick start new businesses, scale up existing ones and increase incomes, building on lessons learned in previous project
  • Addressing bottlenecks in access to finance

Paraffin is very expensive but with solar, in the day, you leave it in the sun and by the evening it can light the house. The solar light is very good - clean and clear compared to the paraffin lamp.”  – Elizabeth Otieno Omondi, 54, from Kisumu, Kenya


Building energy access markets

Markets play a key role in scaling up solutions that make a difference to the lives of poor men and women

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Empowering women with energy

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...

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Agnes Mahero

Agnes Mahero runs a solar business in Kwisero Market, in Kakamega County, Western Kenya and happily displays her wares in the market centre of Ekero. Before she started in business with solar products, Agnes bought and sold cereals from farmers, bulked them and delivered them for large buy...

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Fuel briquettes technology fact sheet

Women in Energy Enterprises

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A blog authored by Elizabeth Njoki and Robert Magori Access to modern energy services is a basic prerequisite for socio-economic development. Its effects extend far beyond the energy sector, such as poverty eradication, access to clean water, improved public health, education and women empowerment. The World Bank’s State of Electricity Access Report 2017 shows that countries with the highest levels of poverty tend to have lower access to modern energy services - a problem that is ...
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Margaret Kariuku — A self-established businesswoman

Margaret Kariuku is a Kenyan woman who has not had the easiest path to success. As a mother of four, she has struggled to find a stable income to provide for herself and her children. "Three times, I have had to start again. Three times, I have had to rebuild my livelihood. It all begun in 2005, when I stopped working as a secretary in Nakuru town. I thought that I would get my life sorted, but as fate would have it, this would not be.” After she finished working as a secretary, ...
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Women at the heart of the development agenda – interview with Farida Bascha

Farida Bascha joined Practical Action as Eastern Africa Regional Director in January 2017 and is a strong advocate for Gender equity and women’s rights. We caught up with her prior to the International Women’s Day to learn more about her and her thoughts about women and development. Hi Farida, Congratulations and welcome to Practical Action! Can you tell us little bit about your background? Thank you, I’m really excited about this opportunity! My mother once joked that my ...
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#sheworksforweeworks What is it all about?

"On 11th of May I was up in the wee-hours to catch the 6am flight to Kisumu… My very first time to Western Kenya so I was quite excited to not only meet the women that I heard so much about but to explore a place that I’ve looked forward to visiting for quite some time now..."
Grace Sowairina Msalame

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Women energy entrepreneurs in Kenya (WEEK)

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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Global Distributors Collective

Ensuring energy products are available for poor consumers

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WEE Works - Women's Economic Empowerment

Women play an invaluable role in energy service and production value chains. They are massive game changers in ensuring universal energy access. Despite the fact that women make up over 50% of the Kenyan population, they have remained excluded from involvement in energy service...

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