By Neva Nahtigal
Kopernik, our partner in Indonesia, has been working to improve public understanding of issues related to women and energy access. At the core of their recent activities in pursuit of that goal is the Indonesian Women for Energy – or #IDWOMEN4ENERGY – campaign. As Kopernik’s communications officer Ina Saptiono explained, “This digital campaign seeks to build public awareness about the important role that women play in improving energy access through a volunteering programme, targeted towards Indonesian youth.”
The programme aims at recruiting storytellers to spread the word about Kopernik’s ‘ibu inspirasi’ based on volunteers’ first-hand experience in the areas where this project is being implemented. ‘Ibu inspirasi’ — ‘wonder women’ in English — are entrepreneurs supported by Kopernik who are making life-changing clean energy technologies available in remote Indonesian communities (read more).
“Nowadays, digital media is a very powerful tool to get your message to reach wide audiences with relatively small budgets. Through effective social network campaigning, you can generate a high amount of interaction between people and your brand or message,” noted Ina when reflecting on the volunteering programme and the broader #IDWOMEN4ENERGY campaign that was largely her brainchild.
Big interest in the volunteering programme
The first volunteering programme took place in 2016, and Kopernik assessed it as a great success, with a response that exceeded expectations: “We received over 100 applications from people eager to support our programme in East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia, by assisting ‘wonder women’ with their day-to-day role in improving energy access in rural areas of Indonesia.”
The three selected volunteers creatively captured their experiences in written stories, photographs, and videos, which they continuously shared on social media. “Through their influence, engagement with our important message continued to rise. Moreover, the volunteers were incredibly immersed in their work and the community around them,” says Ina. She was impressed by the meaningful connections built between the volunteers and the women they volunteered with. For instance, Trisa Triandesa, one of the 2016 volunteers, said: “Through this volunteering programme, not only did I learn so many valuable lessons, but I also got a new family.”
New volunteers, new lessons, new bonds
Based on the good outcomes in 2016, Kopernik decided to repeat the volunteering programme this year.
The three winners were selected out of more than 190 applicants. Adisa Soedearso, Saepul Hamdi and Fitri Mayang Sari traveled to East Nusa Tenggara in July, to spend 10 days supporting three ‘wonder women’ as they were introducing and distributing clean energy technologies at the last mile.
Thus, on a weekend in early July, Adisa accompanied Mama Dety when she delivered clean energy technologies around Kefamenanu, Fitri went to Letmafo village with Mama Lisa for a techfair where they sold all five water filters that they brought along, and Saepul promoted clean energy technologies with Mama Regi in her neighbourhood.
Just as last year, volunteers were expected to create and promote compelling digital stories about their own first-hand experience with ‘wonder women’ and about key issues related to their work, energy access and women’s economic empowerment.
In addition, the volunteers committed to sharing their own skills and knowledge with women entrepreneurs. Saeupul, for instance, taught Mama Regi a specific method of composting, and Fitri organized crowdfunding so she could buy Mama Lisa a smartphone. She then taught Mama Lisa how to use the phone and social media, hoping this would help expand her network and reach more people.
“Through this program, our volunteers and wonder women shared their knowledge and learned valuable lessons from each other. But above all, we are really inspired to see how our volunteers connect with their new family despite their different backgrounds,” reported Kopernik on Instagram when the programme reached its last day.
From short-term programmes to continuous campaigning
As Ina Saptiono explained, Kopernik would now like to keep the #IDWOMEN4ENERGY going as a continuous campaign, amplifying the advocacy message and awareness-raising without being limited to a specific period of volunteering with wonder women. In this effort, Kopernik might be able to rely on social media influencers whose support they also started enlisting last year.
Having checked selected influencers’ messaging and audiences, they approached them one by one. “Those who agreed to collaborate became our long-term supporters who are actively spreading our message, even without being asked,” said Ina Saptiono. Therefore Kopernik will seek to engage additional bloggers, Instagram celebrities and other digital influencers, hoping to make a yet wider audience understand the importance of empowering women and expanding access to clean energy.