In Tanzania, clean technology is increasing productivity and incomes, and saving costs. Energy 4 Impact, in conjunction with the U.S. State Department, hopes to help 400 women become solar entrepreneurs by 2020 with training and finance. They also aim to provide 360,000 people in Kenya and Tanzania with access to solar-powered cooking and lighting instruments.
According to Energy 4 Impact, women and girls are most afflicted by “energy poverty,” spending hours every day collecting firewood, cooking over smoky stoves, and doing household chores—all in poor or no lighting. In Tanzania, only 21% of the population has access to the electric grid, and nearly 70% of the Kenyan population and 95% in Tanzania depend on firewood, charcoal, and dung for cooking, according to Energy 4 Impact.
Since 2013, Energy 4 Impact has helped 1,400 businesses in East Africa. To ensure high standards, Energy 4 Impact works with a range of initiatives and business models that include providing financial and technical assistance for off-the-grid start-ups and ongoing research into the most impactful funding structures, and education is key. Energy 4 Impact hopes to increase energy poverty awareness across Tanzania and hold ongoing forums with women and youth groups.
“Solar energy has entirely changed my life,” Julius, 29, a newly engaged solar entrepreneur, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “I use it at work and at home, yet it doesn’t cost me anything.”
Now able to continue working past daylight hours and increase her income, Julius went one step further and took out a loan to expand her tailoring business. Today, she operates a barbershop, mobile phone charging facility, and general store—all powered with solar energy. She feels “more productive than ever,” she said. On average, she makes 50,000 shillings ($25) a day.