Selling clean energy technologies pays off!

Kopernik’s Wonder Women initiative grew out of a pilot programme in West Indonesia with 50 female entrepreneurs. Their model is now being scaled tenfold thanks to a grant from ENERGIA. Over the next two years, 488 potential entrepreneurs will receive technical, leadership and business training to help them become renewable energy entrepreneurs. Once their business is established, the women will bring simple solar lighting, efficient cookstoves and water filtration systems to their friends, families and neighbours.

In many communities where the initiative has been introduced, there are no outlets for women to become business owners or decision makers. By training women to become energy entrepreneurs, Kopernik provides them with an opportunity to break free of those societal constraints, create additional income for their families and elevate their social status.

On Lembata Island, East Nusa Tenggara, you can find Rovina Surat in Beutaran village. In 2012 Rovina’s husband left her and her two children to travel to Malaysia. He never returned. She struggled to make ends meet – renting her motorcycle to neighbours, harvesting honey from the forest and harpoon hunting squid and sea cucumbers in the early mornings to sell at market.

Through selling clean energy technologies, Rovina was able to save money to build her own house (Photo: Kopernik)

In 2014, Rovina joined the Wonder Women initiative with the goal of building a house for herself and her daughters. She continued to hunt squid in the early morning, carrying her solar-powered d.light S300 to illuminate the way. The lamp became her constant companion and a powerful marketing tool. With the profits from her sales of sustainable energy products, she finished building her home in the summer of 2015. While it may be humble, it’s perched high on a hill overlooking the sea—a million dollar view.

“She has transformed from a weeping widow without a house to an inspiring woman in our village”, one neighbour said of Rovina. “Thanks to her, the whole village doesn’t have to live in complete darkness anymore.”

Since Kopernik was launched in 2010, it has reached more than 270,000 people in 24 countries with life-changing technologies. In Indonesia, a nation of 250 million people, almost half of them—120 million—live in rural areas spread over 17,000 islands, many of which are volcanic. As a result, energy access is limited, with 80% of the population lacking access to electricity. Additionally, almost 100 million people rely on smoky, fuel-heavy traditional stoves for cooking.

The Wonder Women initiative is active in two Indonesian provinces, Nusa Tenggara and West Nusa Tenggara, home to 7,339,548 people. In those areas, 185 women have received training in product-knowledge, entrepreneurship, sales, marketing, and finance—and they are now selling energy products. The products they sell help their neighbours save an estimated $125.54 USD annually.

Finally, as part of the WE Programme with ENERGIA, Kopernik is engaging in advocacy efforts in Indonesia. By integrating gender objectives into Indonesia’s SE4All Country Action Agenda and running a national campaign on women’s economic empowerment through energy access, Kopernik’s advocacy efforts encourage the Indonesian government and donors to allocate investments to gender-informed energy programs. Their upcoming national advocacy campaign focused on women, energy, children and health will engage 450,000 people nationwide helping to raise awareness of the importance of their work.