Empowering Women Energy Entrepreneurs

7 December 2021
Empowering Women Energy Entrepreneurs

In 2020, GEST sent a out a call for applications for the GEST Alumni Fund. All former fellows to the GEST programme were eligible to apply. The GEST programme received many strong applications, but in the end, it was Ms Chinenye Anekwe (alumni of 2018), who received a grant for the project Business Booster Programme for 100 Rural Women Energy Entrepreneurs.

Conceived at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the project sat out to fund Community Sensitization programs for 100 Solar Sister Entrepreneurs (SSEs) in each of the 25 states where Solar Sister operates. This Business Booster project supported 100 Solar Sister Entrepreneurs in Nigeria to grow their local clean energy business enterprises through targeted activities. The project aimed to improve their capacity, expand their customer base and increase their market visibility. This GEST Alumni Fund has enabled the Solar Sister Entrepreneurs to create additional impact by funding community-based market awareness and sensitization campaigns, as well as provide marketing materials that builds awareness of gender-inclusive business, increases the uptake of clean energy conversion, and provides enhanced economic opportunity to women entrepreneurs.

Now, at the end of the project, outcomes have exceeded expectations. Within six months, the 100 SSEs reached over 7000 users with clean energy in 30 communities in Nigeria – 5 more communities than originally planned. In the target areas of the project, women-owned clean energy businesses have grown their business capital from an average of $1000 to an average of $1500, a growth that has continued even after the end of the project. Moreover, after the end of the project, 70% of participating SSEs have gone on to organize mini sensitization campaigns in their own communities, and some of them have moved their businesses to new locations as their self-esteem was boosted. Additionally, participating SSEs scaled up their product portfolio from predominantly pico-systems and phone charging lamps to solar home systems. Most community members upgraded their pico-systems to solar home systems. Finally, this project saw the recruitment of at least 10 new women entrepreneurs during the project. These recruits reported being inspired by what their fellow women were doing, and the prestige that came with it.

We hereby extend a heart-felt congratulations to Ms. Chinenye Anekwe and Solar Sister Nigeria for a successful implementation of a very important project.