As part of worldwide efforts by the Clinton Foundation to empower women with economic knowledge and opportunities, Bill Clinton toured a Solar Sister site in the town of Karatu, Tanzania recently, where woman receive training and micro-financing to sell solar-powered lanterns and cookstoves. Solar Sister is part of Sustainable Energy Solutions powered by Women’s Enterprise, a Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action. They have created a deliberately woman-centered direct sales network to bring the potential of clean energy to even the most remote communities in Africa.
President Clinton visited with Chrecensia Shoki, a woman who uses a solar panel on her roof to send energy to a generator so she can have power in her house. She sells environmentally-friendly items, like solar lights and cookstoves, to increase her income. This lets her pay school fees for her children and buy food and other daily essentials. She is one of the strongest sellers and has taken full advantage of the program’s entrepreneurial training and opportunities.
Shoki sells from her home, door-to-door and in the market. She explains to potential customers how solar lights can help chldren do homework at night and can charge cell phones for the ability to communicate more. Solar Sisters have trained 1,300 entrepreneurs so far in Africa, with 476 of those located in Tanzania. Solar Sister shared this quote on their Instagram page, from Rachel Pritzker and Mike Berkowitz at the Stanford Social Innovation Review on why dealing with energy has such high impact: “We have come to believe that energy is not—and cannot be seen as—just an environmental issue: it is fundamental to a wide array of issues that contemporary philanthropy is concerned with, including health, education, women’s empowerment, and poverty.”
Through a micro-enterprise model, Solar Sister entrepreneurs get a ‘business in a bag’ that includes a start-up kit of inventory, training and marketing support to bring clean energy directly to their customers’ doorsteps. This makes them completely independent businesswomen, which facilitates personal satisfaction as well as economic growth for their families and communities.
Via Solar Sister
Images via Clinton Foundation