Five role models win ENERGIA Women Entrepreneurship Award 2017

We are pleased to announce five women from Asia and Africa as winners of the ENERGIA Women Entrepreneurship Award 2017. The award is meant to recognize outstanding work and encourage the winners to perform even better in the future.

ENERGIA’s partners in the implementation of the Women Economic Empowerment (WE) Programme nominated the candidates for the award. All nominees have been actively engaged in the WE Programme for at least one year and have been continuously running a profitable business for at least three quarters of a year. Moreover, they all demonstrated clear and positive changes in the development of their businesses, and they are leaders in the communities and role models for other entrepreneurs. Given all nominees’ excellence, the jury’s task of selecting one winner per country was a tough one, indeed.

The five ENERGIA Women Entrepreneurship Award 2017 winners are:

Ibu Detty from Indonesia, who has been running a clean energy business as a participant in Kopernik’s Wonder Women Program, while raising four children together with her husband and fulfilling the duties of her day job as a teacher. She regularly speaks to her colleagues and students’ parents about the benefits of clean energy technologies and their positive impact on the environment. “The most delightful thing about distributing clean energy technology is seeing the benefits that people get from using the technologies. Families can save time, costs, and they become healthier too,” said Ibu Detty, who dreams about expanding her business and distributing clean energy technologies to the most remote parts of her area.

Margaret Kariuku from Kenya, who launched her briquettes enterprise in 2015 and has participated in various training programmes provided by the Women in Energy Enterprises in Kenya project ran by ENERGIA’s partner Practical Action Eastern Africa. The mother of four school-aged children and a capable entrepreneur, Margaret has increased her sales from the initial 50 to 150 kg to several tonnes of fuel briquettes per month. She wants to further expand her business and create additional jobs: “Many young people are jobless, and many women are frustrated, they have no way to get an income. So I can use the prize money to give them a chance, to teach them and to give them the skills so that they can benefit as I am benefitting. At the same time I will improve my life standard.”

Niru Shrestha, an experienced entrepreneur from Nepal, who was inspired by the WEE-Nepal training programmes in 2015 to switch from constructing built-on-site mud chimney stoves to supplying portable biomass cookstoves. “I have sold more than 6,000 units of improved cookstoves, worth 12.7 million Nepalese rupees, within a year. I have 105 WEE-Nepal promoted women entrepreneurs as retailers, agents in my supply chain,” said Niru, who shows great ambition to expand her business. She is planning to engage with both government and non-government organisations, local financial institutions and banks to promote improved cookstoves.

Oumy Ngom, the leader of a Senegalese women’s group who has benefitted from the Energy 4 Impact programme sponsored by ENERGIA and engaged her group in the use and sale of clean energy products through the sale of solar lamps and improved cookstoves. She said: “What I enjoy most in my work is introducing new products to people. And as an accomplished entrepreneur, I can now share my knowledge with others, by teaching them how to make improved cookstoves or fix solar products for example.” Oumy Ngom would now like to build a fully solar-powered processing unit to develop her group’s agricultural activities.

Hilaria Paschal who became Solar Sister’s very first entrepreneur in Tanzania in 2013. She explained: “I knew it would increase my income and help the community reduce cost. Because one person buys a light, we’d also be able to charge our cell phones. Also for the sake of the environment. Many cotton farmers lost their home because of kerosene fires.” This mother of five children sells cookstoves and solar lights as well as helps mentor other women at Solar Sister as a group leader in her area, thus bringing economic opportunity to more women in rural Tanzania. Hilaria is now focusing on strengthening and expanding her network of customers and partners to take her business to the next level.

These five exceptional women entrepreneurs were selected by the jury that consisted of: Svati Bhogle, Chief Executive, Technology Informatics Design Endeavour (TIDE) and Managing Director, Sustaintech India Pvt. Ltd; Rachel Mahmud, Senior Programme Associate Gender, Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves; and Zeph Kivungi, Programme Officer Energy Access Partnership, Hivos.

Each winner will receive 1,000 euros for the strengthening of their capacities to run an energy business or for enhancing the profitability of their business. The award ceremony will take place at the SEforALL Forum, which will be held in early April in New York. ENERGIA will sponsor the winners’ attendance as a part of the award.

ENERGIA launched the Women’s Economic Empowerment Programme in 2014, as part of ENERGIA’s commitment to SEforALL’s overall goal of reaching universal access to modern energy services by 2030. This programme is aimed at strengthening micro- and small scale female entrepreneurs in the energy sector to become profitable and successful entrepreneurs and leaders in their communities. More than 3,000 women have been taking part in the programme, receiving training, mentorship and technical support. The Women’s Economic Empowerment programme is being implemented by the Centre for Rural Technology Nepal, Energy4Impact, Kopernik, Practical Action Eastern Africa and Solar Sister.

We will present the winners and their accomplishments in more detail in future posts. Stay tuned!