Solar Sister – An Expanding Network Of Female Entrepreneurs Giving Access To Clean Energy
According to World Bank statistics up to 90% of Uganda’s population have no access to electricity. This is not only a major hindrance to socio-economic growth but also presents other serious disadvantages as far as basic life comforts are concerned. An individual without electricity will be forced to retire to bed early or become less active after sun down, especially when compared to somebody with ready access to electricity. In the long run the person without access to electricity becomes less productive compared to the one with access to electricity.
To address this socio-economic problem is an all-lady association dubbed Solar Sister whose aim is to provide access to clean energy to those lacking electricity supply and in turn also help them move out of poverty. The solar sister association also provide an avenue for the women members to have access to various avenues that will boost the economy. They achieve this by exploiting the potential solar power technology has, and using the women members as their sales network to distribute and market these low cost solar solution plus the women benefit by not only having access to solar electricity but also earn a commission as a sale person for the solar products.
The Solar Sister was found by Katherine Lucey, who previously worked as an investment banker and has expertise in the solar energy sector. According to Katherine, this model of distributing the solar product: affordable solar lighting, solar lamps, solar powered mobile phone chargers. The women folk use a community based networks comprising of family and neighbor in order to build their own business and earning a good commission on every sale they make. This is classic definition of the old saying, “If you invest in a woman you invest in the whole nation”.
One testimony how the Solar Sister is changing lives in Uganda is Ms. Eva Walusimbi who before joining the Solar Sister was living in darkness in a small town known as Mityana found in Central Uganda. She witnessed the financial strains and health hazards that living in darkness can bring to the people.
Ms. Walusimbi runs a school for the less fortunate children and orphans shared a touching story, “Just three miles away from here, people in the villages don’t have electricity, some of the use candles, some use kerosene lamps. One morning there was a kid that was picked from school early in the morning because her sibling had died in a fire. The kid had lit a candle in the house and then went outside to do some other chores, so the candle melted away and the house was all on fire. By the time that they came back to see what’s going on, the whole house was burned down and the kid was burned to ashes”.
With the Solar Sister initiative, the women don’t have to use the candle or kerosene based lamps anymore hence putting themselves in a better safety standard. In addition to this, the women acting as saleswomen to the distribution and selling of the solar products, earn a source of livelihood which in turn helps the entire family.