This article presents vital lessons that have been learned from engaging and enrolling female entrepreneurs into an energy access project, in Kenya and Tanzania which is providing business and technology training and mentorship and support to access financing and market opportunities.
Although the aim is to work with female entrepreneurs, projects should consider engaging both women and men given the nature of how small family businesses are owned and operate. This will enhance harmony in the families and but also ensuring that women are able to make sound decisions for the business together with their partners. Men should also be involved as the energy products value chain involves both women and men for successful delivery of the products to the markets.
It is important for project implementers to have open mind to learn and adjust their approach in response to the situation in the target areas. The approach may be different from assumptions made during the design phase, but the adjustment will enable projects to have the greatest impact on the beneficiaries it supports whilst improving the assumptions for the design of future projects.
Jane Kioko’s first job as a marketer in a solar company inspired her to establish her own business, Silver Investments, in January 2016, selling solar products to remote off-grid villages. Based in Tala, Machakos County in Eastern Kenya, Jane sells lamps, solar panels, converters and batteries to homes, businesses and institutions, some as far as 20 kilometres from her shop.
An entrepreneur with a passion for improving lives with solar products, has set her eyes on expanding her business and bring solar products to remote communities, thanks to mentorship from Energy 4 Impact’s Women Integration into Renewable Energy (WIRE) Value Chains project.
I bought my Sunking Home 60 Solar Lamp System this week in Siaya, Kenya. I am very excited and looking forward to enjoying the services of this pay-as-you-go enabled solar kit which comes with three lights and options to charge cell phones and my small portable radio.
The unit comes with 6 Watts solar polycrystalline panel, control panel with 5.5V USB and 12V DC power output, 2 overhead lamps with switch, and a radio. The control panel has a display with two indicators 1) for the battery status: to indicate the remaining battery power and 2) solar charge indicator: to indicate effectiveness of the charging by the solar panel in a scale of 1-5 and this helps user to position the panel for maximum performance.
The radio is a portable FM radio with internal 650 mAh battery that is recharged via USB. It operates in two modes FM radio and MP3 music player. It can read micro SD card and with an inbuilt display it can show the FM stations in radio mode and songs number in music mode. I am impressed with this radio’s clear sound and decent bass.
This unit will complement my power supply for lighting and phone charging needs at my home. We will continue to have better lighting even during the periods of blackout.
The purchasing – which included the vendors getting my personal data and activating my unit took about 10 minutes only. I did my first payment and My Sunking unit was activated immediately through the vendors mobile phone. I made down payment and was ready to use the sytem.
I will continue to observe performance of this unit and will update you in the coming weeks.