Partnerships to scale up energy delivery

ENERGIA’s Women’s Economic Empowerment Programme works with partners in seven countries to strengthen and empower micro and small scale women entrepreneurs who deliver clean and renewable technologies. An early lesson has been that if the delivery of technologies really is to be scaled up, partnerships and agreements with other parties such as community groups, government institutions, financing institutions and the private sector are indispensable. During the first year, all programme partners identified relevant parties to work with. Here’s how one of these partnerships works.

From tea leaves picker to entrepreneur

In Kenya, our implementing partners are Practical Action Eastern Africa and Sustainable Community Development Services (SCODE). Together, they will train, support and mentor 730 women entrepreneurs, who will reach 364,200 consumers with renewable energy products and services. Tabitha Njoki Kabia is one of these entrepreneurs.

Tabitha works for a tea factory, picking tea leaves. Her entrepreneurial drive made her look further and when she learned about energy efficient stoves she knew instantly that this would be her future business. Enthusiastic as she was, Practical Action and SCODE’s Women in Energy Enterprises in Kenya (WEEK) programme staff identified her as promising entrepreneur.

National policies translated into actions

The Kenya Tea Development Authority (KTDA) has proposed to improve efficiency in its production systems. In a bid to achieve green production, it started programmes that encourage farmers to adopt environmentally friendly measures all the way to their households. This policy is now translated into concrete actions in the tea producing business. The Chinga Tea Factory where Tabitha works offers a rebate to its suppliers—around 15,000 tea farmers—for purchasing and installing energy efficient stoves and for adopting agroforestry on their farms. At the same time, with 15,000 suppliers operationalizing this would be quite challenging. This is where the partnership mooted between SCODE, Tabitha and the tea factory come into play.

How it works

Having learned about this opportunity, SCODE started deliberations with Chinga Tea Factory, in Nyeri County, central Kenya, resulting in an agreement, which benefits the three parties. As SCODE and Practical Action, Chinga Tea Factory saw potential in Tabitha and selected her as one of the three promoters of the initiative. Tabitha collects orders from the farmers and distributes the stoves supplied by SCODE to the tea factory.  The tea factory allows her to use the company trucks for the delivery of the stoves to the tea collection centres while they follow the stipulated daily itinerary. This is how she gets the stoves to the farmers. When the farmers go to the collection centre to deliver their produce, they pick up their stoves. The tea factory deducts the cost of the stoves supplied to individual farmers from their payment through a check-off system. Once an order has been delivered, Tabitha, being in charge of the distribution, receives a commission.

A win-win-win-win situation

With this partnership, Tabitha grows a business and earns an extra income, SCODE market its stoves, the Chinga Tea Factory complies with government environmental policies and the tea farmers purchase an improved cookstove at a reasonable price, without having to save up beforehand.

Tabitha has already distributed over 3,500 stoves since she started. With 15,000 farmers providing the factory, there’s still plenty of room for her to grow.