Women who bring sustainable change

December 10, 2020

In male-dominated societies in Africa and Asia, we’ve been helping thousands of women entrepreneurs start their own environmentally-friendly business. They are leading the way for other women and girls to become independent like them, while at the same time fighting climate change. But then corona hit.

Diarriétou and Everlyne are just two of the nearly 5,000 women energy entrepreneurs we have supported over the past five years. They were successfully running their own businesses until the corona pandemic outbreak. Now, their future looks uncertain.

Diarriétou runs a sustainable farm in Senegal

In a desert oasis village in the west of Senegal, 39-year-old Diarriétou owns her own farm and runs it on renewable energy. She grows various types of vegetables using a solar-powered water pump. As a sustainable entrepreneur, she is an example to other farmers, as well as to the women and girls in her area.

Several years ago, Diarriétous husband lost a leg in a serious accident. Since then, the responsibility for supporting the family rests entirely on her shoulders.

My own business gives me a voice in society.

She is determined to contribute to positive change, for herself and for others. “My own business gives me a voice in society,” she states proudly.

But when corona hit, the markets had to close and her sales stopped abruptly. At the same time, the water pump started to give out. In a matter of days, she saw both her sales and production collapse. Diarriétou is more than worried. She can’t afford to take on any more losses. “Under these circumstances, how can I pay off my pump loan and feed my family?” she asks.

Everlyne brings light to the darkness in Kenya

When Everlyne saw how many children in her village couldn’t do their homework after dark because they didn’t have good lighting, she decided to act. That was the start of her new business selling lamps and other solar energy products.

Everlyne, 35, lives in western Kenya in an area with little access to electricity. Starting a solar company turned out to be a golden move. The products are a good solution for the families in her village, and the sales provide Everlyne an income to support her own family.

Not only did it enable her and her family to make ends meet, the business also let her make a positive change in her community. She went on to hire three other women, and started dreaming of giving more women and young people a chance to find work.

Women entrepreneur Everlyne

Everlyne is also proud of her achievement: “With the solar energy products I sell, other people in my village can also have light in their houses at night, and children can study better.”

In early 2020, she opened a shop opposite a school in the village. A place where many children, parents and teachers passed by. But only two weeks after opening, the schools had to close due to the corona outbreak. Customers stopped coming to the store, and Everlyne saw her turnover drop drastically.

Solidarity Fund

We’ve set up a Solidarity Fund to help Diarriétou and Everlyne – and other women entrepreneurs in Africa and Asia – keep their head above water. The fund partially compensates their loss in income. Amounts range up to a few hundred euros, which may not seem like much, but it makes a world of difference for them.

With your donation to the fund, we can help these courageous women get through the crisis.

With the ENERGIA program, we’ve helped nearly 5,000 female entrepreneurs start and run renewable energy businesses in five countries. We do this through our partners: Practical Action, CRT-Nepal, Energy 4 Impact and Solar Sister.