Empowering Women and Eradicating Energy Poverty in Africa: Schwab Foundation Honors Solar Sister CEO Katherine Lucey

Solar Sister, a network of women entrepreneurs bringing clean energy to rural Africa, recently announced Chief Executive Officer Katherine Lucey has been named a Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur. Lucey has been recognized for leading the organization’s success in improving the health, safety, education and economic prosperity of communities in rural Africa through solar energy businesses.

Solar Sister’s social enterprise model is driven by clean energy technology sales and donations from individuals, corporations and foundations. Support to Solar Sister’s mission can be made here: http://www.solarsister.org/donate/.

According to the World Bank, 1.6 billion people live without electricity, which is 25 percent of the world’s population. Seventy percent of that number are women and girls living in the developing world who often use dangerous and expensive fuels for cooking and lighting their homes. To address this humanitarian crisis in Africa, Solar Sister has developed a unique market-based solution leveraging the talent and networks of women.

Solar Sister is actively recruiting, training and maintaining a growing sales force, which is comprised of women from rural African communities that are most in need of safe and affordable solar energy. By selling portable lamps, mobile phone chargers and clean cookstoves, Solar Sister combines the breakthrough potential of clean energy technologies with a grass roots network of businesswomen.

With more than 1,250 entrepreneurs, Solar Sister is making a big impact:

  • Solar Sister Entrepreneurs can double their household income with their solar business
  • 30 percent reduction in household expenses when customers use a solar lamp to replace expensive kerosene
  • Three hours more study time for children every day when their families replace kerosene with solar light
  • $46 of economic impact is generated for every $1 invested in a Solar Sister Entrepreneur

“Recognition as a Social Entrepreneur is an enormous honor, and I want to thank the Schwab Foundation for the award and — more importantly — for putting a spotlight on the energy crisis in Africa,” said Katherine Lucey, founder and CEO of Solar Sister. “More than 600 million people in Africa live without electricity, and this lack of access to electricity is both a cause and an effect of unremitting poverty. Solar Sister is proud to be part of the solution. By investing in women, and kick-starting their solar businesses, we’re providing the economic opportunities they want and need to create healthier, more prosperous communities.”

As a recipient of the Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur of the Year awards, Lucey joins more than 300 outstanding social entrepreneurs from 60 countries. Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneurs are fully integrated into the events and initiatives of the World Economic Forum and contribute actively to and benefit from peer-to-peer exchanges with other social entrepreneurs, as well as interactions with top leaders in business, government, civil society and the media.

“Social entrepreneurs are visionaries but are also realists, and are ultimately concerned with the practical implementation of scalable solutions,” said Hilde Schwab, Co-Founder and Chairperson of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship. “The 33 outstanding social entrepreneurs we have selected into the Schwab Foundation community this year are designing transformative models in collaboration with government and business partners to generate truly inclusive growth. As such, social entrepreneurs represent an integral and dynamic community of the World Economic Forum.”