For The Future | Solar Sister: Empowering Women Entrepreneurs To Grow And Sustain Clean Energy Businesses

Alongside the launch of collection 2, Saywood launched the Saywood For Good program; our give back initiative committed to our three key sustainability pillars: People, Planet, and the Future.

All three of these pillars are needed to create a world where we can live within our planetary boundaries, and lead happy and healthier lives too. I mean, why would we not want this?!

With the focus being People, Planet, and the Future, and taking the time to research and speak with the organisations I have chosen to partner with, Saywood can support each of these initiatives, and work with partners that are really holding true to these key sustainability goals.

Solar Sister is our partner for the Future, and they absolutely embody this pillar, supporting renewable energy and empowering women and young people.

Two women stand, smiling at the camera, holding a fire stove. The woman on the right wears an orange Solar Sister t-shirt.

Nanbet and Magdalene, Solar Sisters, Nigeria

Solar Sister is a female-led social enterprise that brings clean power and energy to off-grid communities across Africa. So far, it has reached over three million people and empowered over 7,000 Entrepreneurs to start clean energy businesses, bringing sustainable energy solutions into their communities – from cookstoves that use 60% less fuel, to solar panelled lamps, chargers, and fans. 

Not only is Solar Sister creating and supporting entrepreneurial opportunities for so many women, but it is also a climate solution that improves human well-being, boosts equity, and helps usher in prosperity for people in sub-Saharan Africa who are least responsible for the climate crisis. Products sold by Solar Sister Entrepreneurs have eliminated over 946,763 metric tonnes of CO2 emissions. 

With many rural communities being off-grid from main energy supplies, this comes with its day to day challenges. 95% of the household work is done by women, so it is they who are directly dealing with the impact of a lack of safe and secure energy; unsafe stoves and a lack of lighting for example. Their children are impacted too, without sufficient lighting it makes the school homework challenging.

Woman is in a darkened room lighting one of the Solar Sister clean energy lamps

Adjusting the Solar Sister clean energy lamp

Many of the cooking stoves previously in use used kerosene to fuel them, which was dangerous and contributed to respiratory illnesses. But the clean cooking stoves provided by the Solar Sister entrepreneurs are better both in terms of safety and financially, helping to make big savings on energy, and without using kerosene.

This women-led movement trains these entrepreneurs in clean energy and their products and its benefits, which they in turn sell on to their communities. These clean energy products help both the end user and the entrepreneurs to have a say in how their household operates. Of course, economic value in the home is not always in money-terms, but much of the considered economic value in the home is still seen this way, and can often be male-dominated. But these women entrepreneurs are able to directly show their economic value in their homes, able to pay school fees and support more girls into school too. 

In empowering these women, it helps to create safer communities, and they themselves contribute even further to the wider community, able to invest in other businesses, such as the local fishing boats. Most recently, Solar Sister entrepreneurs have installed fishing lights in Tanzania, as well as solar panels in their health clinics.

Solar Sister entrepreneur standing outside, smiling at the camera holding one of the products

Solar Sister entrepreneur Nemris holding one of the clean energy products

The Solar Sister women are supported by local in-country teams, as well as recruiting, training and mentoring others coming into the program themselves, whilst having ongoing support through regular meetings in sisterhood groups.

They learn digital literacy skills, so that they can compete long-term in business, and are provided with mobile phones to help them track new and existing customers, as well as learning financial literacy skills, for both business and personal.

In Tanzania Solar Sister have even provided 100 bikes to help the women entrepreneurs get around to meet their customers and reach more of their community in person.

Other products the Solar Sister entrepreneurs help their communities access include incubators and hair clippers, as well as chemical-free water filters that remove bacteria, parasites and waterborne diseases.

Solar Sister is training the new generation too. Through their initiative, youth groups are learning business and financial skills, of which they can take with them even if they do not go forward to work in renewable energy.

Solar Sister entrepreneurs stand side by side, heads, touching, smiling at the camera, wearing their orange Solar Sister t-shirts

Solar Sister's Mercy and Nanbet

Renewable energy is the future, and we need it to be much more in the present too. This initiative gets renewable energies right into peoples homes and supports those off the main grid too. Even in the UK we have off grid folks in rural areas that are using oil tanks for their energy supplies. To be able to have more renewable energy access, and indeed everyone using renewable energy and no fossil fuels is the ultimate goal.

And with Solar Sister supporting renewable energy to off grid communities that need safer energy sources, eliminating nearly one million tonnes of CO2 emissions (as of 2022), and empowering female entrepreneurs, this really is a fantastic initiative striving for a better future. And we are here for it.

We will keep you posted with our support for Solar Sister, and you can find out more about Solar Sister right here.

If you would like to donate towards the Solar Sister social enterprise you can do so here.

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.