Mother of four, farmer, wife, and small business woman, Patricia Shayo is a determined and creative Tanzanian woman. When she’s not managing the household and raising four children – including twins! – she brings in extra cash by making nutritious sorghum flour to sell door to door. Patricia also farms a small plot of land to provide staple food for her family. She is always looking out for ways to learn and improve her family’s life.
“Whenever I see opportunities, I go for them, I do not let them pass!” she says.
There is no grid electricity at all in the small, rural village of Michungwani, some 60 miles from Tanzania’s northern coast, where Patricia and her family live. People here use kerosene and firewood to light their homes and cook their food. It is the women of Michungwani who manage their home energy needs. This means spending hours searching for wood and spending money paying for kerosene. Not to mention the hazards and health problems that these fuels mete out on the women using them.
Blackened kitchen huts are a testament to what woodsmoke can do to the lungs. Kerosene lamps and candles are a constant threat of burns and fire. Patricia has lived these realities herself and knows well how women in her community suffer from toxic fuels.
So when Patricia heard about Solar Sister’s entrepreneurial opportunity in clean energy, she was inspired to try it out. She signed up in 2017.
People here were aware of solar, says Patricia, but they didn’t know where to get quality and durable solar lights. Market sellers sold solar products at low prices but they were unreliable and broke quickly. Patricia says most people had very little awareness of the health, time and economic benefits of cooking with clean cookstoves.
Through 12 months of Solar Sister training and mentoring, Patricia learned about the most durable and affordable clean energy products available and how to set up a sustainable business to deliver clean energy to people who need it. After using solar lights and a clean cookstove herself, she understood personally how much she could save and the myriad benefits of switching to clean energy.
“I have learned a lot of things from Solar Sister, it makes women be strong and alleviates energy poverty. And it makes us know that woman can take care of their family without depending on others.”
Patricia’s husband is a technician for the solar energy company, Mobisol, and encouraged her to get involved in clean energy. Her husband’s support is important to her. And at the same time, she knows that with training and tools, women are able to transform lives and communities.
Patricia says her family life has changed thanks to her clean energy business. She uses the extra income to help with family issues, to take care of school costs and to furnish their home.
“What I like about Solar Sister is the opportunity to empower women. From a small amount of capital women can now start business. It has made me a strong and courageous mother and I see opportunities that I did not see before.”