Solar Sister was founded on the idea that women have the potential to bring light, hope and opportunity to their communities. The organization provides technical, business, sales and marketing training to women in Africa. The training helps the women start small businesses, which sell sustainable energy products to their communities. Additionally, their network of entrepreneurs and Business Development Associates is structured to provide plenty of mentorship and support to the entrepreneurs involved. Solar Sister entrepreneurs work in communities in Tanzania, Uganda and Nigeria, many of which lack access to an electrical grid and where women lack access to wage-earning work. Solar Sister brings energy solutions and skills-training together to solve these issues in tandem.
Solar Sister entrepreneurs sell home energy solutions like home solar lighting systems and lanterns, solar powered radios and televisions, as well as efficient cookstoves to their communities. At the start of their training, participants are asked to envision their future . The Solar Sister team then helps them create a concrete plan to reach their goals.
Solar Sister not only empowers the women entrepreneurs they train, but all women within their organization. In fact, Solar Sister’s commitment to gender equality is exceptional; they have a female CEO, 86% of their staff are women as well as 57% of the board. All in all, they are a much-needed example of how women can be involved in every level of the energy sector.
For instance, the country manager for Solar Sister in Tanzania, Fatma Muzo, supports and directs Solar Sister’s many countrywide staff in their work to bring sustainable energy to their communities. Ms. Muzo is a constant champion for her Business Development Associates. Many of her staff are women, and they all work together around the country to support and mentor Solar Sister Entrepreneurs.
Solar Sister works with women because they are the ones most profoundly impacted by energy poverty. In many cases, this means that they are they are the ones most committed to making change. Women are responsible for managing the energy needs of their households and are the ones most affected by sustainable energy products at home. Time and time again, through Solar Sister’s model, women have had engaged their strong community network to create deep-rooted change.
Though Solar Sister is currently working on projects in Tanzania, Uganda and Nigeria, they have a global presence and partner with organisations worldwide to advocate for more ways to integrate gender issues into energy policy and solutions.
In fact, Solar Sister is currently developing a multimedia awareness campaign in Tanzania called WE Shine, which will help educate consumers about the benefits of sustainable energy solutions through video, radio campaigns, newspaper ads and case studies. Solar Sister will also recognize Tanzanian leaders who are playing pivotal roles in integrating gender into the energy conversation through the SHINE awards.