Approximately 25% of the world’s population live in energy poverty. In sub-Saharan Africa only 5% of the rural population has access to electricity. Solar Sister is an award winning innovative social enterprise that fights to eliminate energy poverty through Africa’s two valuable resources: the hot African sun and the women.
Solar Sister was founded by Katherine Lucey, a former investment banker with expertise in the energy sector. The story began in 2009 as a small project in a village on a mountain in Eastern Uganda. In just 4 years, the organization became a real success of clean energy network powered by African women entrepreneurs.
How it works
Solar Sister trains and supports African women in sub-Saharan Africa to sell affordable clean renewable energy in their communities. The idea of helping only the women came from the simple observation that they are the responsible of managing their household energy needs.
With the commission earned from selling solar lighting, lamps, mobile chargers etc, the women can use it to reinvest in new inventory. This way they help their family with a continuously income, but also help the entire community offering them access to a reliable energy source. With the new green energy, people save up to 30% of their household expenses.
Solar Sister entrepreneurs are seen as role models to other women from their community. Their success is determining many other women to join the network. From 10 women at the start, Solar Sister network has now over 270 entrepreneurs from Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan. However, the group plans to expand in the future in other counties in the continent.
Solar Sister is a registered non-profit organization and everyone can get involved in growing this project. For every woman entrepreneur, Solar Sister invests $500 which provides the start-up kit of working capital, as well as training and marketing support. Every $1 invested in a female entrepreneur generates over $46 of economic benefit in the first year alone. All donations are invested 100% in a Solar Sister Entrepreneur’s business.
Solar Sister is not just about economic benefits. In absence of electricity, people in rural areas rely mainly on fuel-based devices as the kerosene lamps. The problem with these lamps is not only the high cost, but the fact that they emit toxic fumes. In some unfortunate cases these lamps are the cause of fire, even deaths.
According to Solar Sister, in a year the quantity of CO2 released into the atmosphere from kerosene use is the equivalent of that released by 30 million cars: about 190 million tonnes of CO2.
Solar Sister is the initiator of a true social and green technology revolution in sub-Saharan Africa. What is your opinion about this project?
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