WEA’s WISE Women’s Clean Cookstoves Project is in the application phase! By the end of the year we will identify 30 women leaders in Kaduna State, Nigeria who will join our training to gain the skills, knowledge and resources they need to promote clean cookstoves and launch their own clean energy businesses. We are accepting applications from women with backgrounds in a variety of fields ranging from business, community activism, and NGOs who can apply in pairs to begin our training in February.
WEA Founding Mother, and Founder and Director of WISE, Olanike Olugboji, has spent the last year and a half distributing various models of clean cookstoves throughout communities in Kaduna and gathering feedback to narrow down a list of cookstove models that work particularly well for her region’s needs.
Take a listen to this call for application submissions; it’s got us pumped!
Finally, World Food Day on October 16th also marked the end of our 10-day #WEAWorldFoodDayGiveaway campaign. The giveaway brought together countless WEA champions who gave at least $15 (the cost of a clean cookstove) to ensure that the women participating in this upcoming training have clean cookstoves and are poised to start their own clean energy businesses. Thank you to everyone who joined the giveaway!
As the #WEAWorldFoodDayGiveaway comes to a close, we’d like to thank everyone who joined us this year to ensure that the brave women entrepreneurs taking part in our WISE Women’s Clean Cookstoves Project in Nigeria have what they need as they safeguard their health, and their families’ and communities’ health. Every $15 given will cover the cost of a clean cookstove for one of these women leaders, helping to combat the life-threatening reality of smoke inhalation from firewood-burning cookstoves. Additionally, with her clean cookstove and the training she will receive through this project, each woman will have the tools she needs to launch her own sustainable clean energy business and provide practical and affordable renewable energy solutions for countless other women and families.
A recent article in Ecopreneurist described how “decentralized sustainable energy technologies…are the cheapest solutions for energy access” and emphasized that these initiatives “cannot only be designed by and for men and male entrepreneurs in developing countries*. Women entrepreneurs in developing countries need to be welcomed into the cultural and financial systems, structures, and institutions that promote sustainable energy initiatives.”
As the article explains, “[W]omen are typically the primary household energy managers. They also have more interpersonal interactions with other members of their communities than do men. Women entrepreneurs have comparative advantage over male entrepreneurs in acquiring and serving female customers,” and yet, they face severe structural barriers to success in many countries.
These barriers include challenges in accessing and developing entrepreneurial skills, financial literacy, financial management and technical skills, lack of access to justice, risk of violence that limits their personal movement and occupational choices, restrictive gendered norms, and lack of ownership and control of land (often a pre-condition for access to finances).
The article goes on to offer solutions to these barriers—ones that promote women’s leadership and entrepreneurship, gender equality, and bring us closer to realizing the 17 new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets that aim to end poverty, combat inequalities, and promote prosperity while protecting the environment by 2030. One of the primary solutions recommended, and which the WISE Women’s Clean Cookstoves Project—and the #WEAWorldFoodDayGiveaway—brings to life, is the need to improve women’s access to technical education, training and information. The project does this through training women entrepreneurs to 1) build and scale clean cookstove businesses, 2) train their families and communities to adopt cookstoves, and 3) form networks to advocate for clean energy at the local and national levels in a region severely impacted by climate change, deforestation, and poverty, where high percentages of women are sick and die from smoke inhalation from traditional open stoves.
Through this work, these local women entrepreneurs will reach 13,000 more people in Kaduna State, Nigeria, empowering fellow women leaders in their communities, and breaking the structural barriers which limit the success of renewable energy initiatives around the world.
Read the full article on the Ecopreneurist here, and learn more about the WISE Women’s Clean Cookstoves Project here.
*WEA acknowledges the challenges of using terms such as “developing countries.” While we try to be specific in naming the countries we are referring to as an alternative, this hasn’t always been the case in our language, particularly in instances when we quote other sources. As we move forward, we will continue to do our best to be respectful in our phrasing. We’ll mess up sometimes and we hope you’ll (gently, kindly) let us know.
Throughout the #WEAWorldFoodDayGiveaway, we’ve been sharing stories and raising awareness about our Nigeria Women’s Clean Cookstoves Project, and the opportunity to donate $15 to cover the cost of a cookstove for a woman to launch her own clean energy business. In partnership with Women’s Initiative for Sustainable Environment (WISE), we’re excited to be launching this project and ensuring that families in Kaduna State, Nigeria have the chance to breathe healthier air, reduce deforestation, increase household savings, improve health and safety, and transform their sense of personal and community empowerment.
This World Food Day, it’s crucial that we recognize that healthy communities depend not only on healthy food, but on healthy cooking. If a woman in Nigeria cooks breakfast, lunch and dinner over a wood fire, she suffers the equivalent of smoking between 3 and 20 packets of cigarettes a day. Over 93,000 Nigerians (mostly women and children) die annually from inhalation of firewood smoke from indoor cooking (not to mention the deforestation that is destroying regions and increasing climate instability). This project will train women leaders in Nigeria to promote and sell clean cookstoves, reducing these threats overall. In our #WEAWorldFoodDayGiveaway, we invite people to donate $15 to cover the cost of one cookstove for a family.
But it doesn’t stop there.
WEA and WISE are committed to ensuring that families in Kaduna State have access to clean cookstoves not only during this one year project, but for years to come. That’s why our model is designed to scale and sustain access to clean cookstoves and community awareness beyond the life of the project.
In order to achieve this, 30 women will participate in a three-part training, including leadership, entrepreneurship, and clean cookstove technology. The women will participate in the trainings in 15 pairs and will be selected through an application process starting in the next two weeks that will conclude at the end of November. Graduates of the trainings will receive grants to start their clean cookstove businesses. This is where your $15 contributions come in! Each donation of $15 covers the cost of one cookstove. Grants of $500 for each team are designed to cover the cost of entrepreneurs’ first 20 cookstoves, as well as transportation, marketing, and demonstration events. Furthermore, WEA and WISE will also support the entrepreneur pairs to link to micro-finance institutions. Within the year, each entrepreneur pair is expected to reach approximately 90 families with clean cookstoves—including training families on how to use and maintain them—thereby reaching a total of 13,000 people within one year.
In order for women and their families to adopt clean cookstoves, it’s critical that they understand the life-threatening importance of replacing traditional cookstoves, and see positive changes in their own communities. Through participation in community trainings, public demonstrations, networking events, and advocacy campaigns, women will increase their capacity and confidence to be social, ecological, and economic leaders in their families and communities for adoption of clean, safe cookstoves.
Let’s do this!
Join the #WEAWorldFoodDayGiveaway here, and support women entrepreneurs in Nigeria. Your $15 will cover the cost of one clean cookstove, and will enter you to win fabulous prizes from some of our favorite sustainable brands.
“Over 98,000 Nigerian women die annually from use of firewood. If a woman cooks breakfast, lunch and dinner, it is equivalent to smoking between three and 20 packets of cigarettes a day.”
In her article, Olanike shares her personal story of growing up in a middle-class family in Nigeria that was fortunate enough to have the choice of cooking and heating fuels: gas, kerosene or wood. Unfortunately, as Olanike saw in her own community—and as remains the case today—not all families could afford alternatives to wood-burning cookstoves, and it is the women who most often bear the body burden of collecting and burning firewood. Mothers, daughters and sisters risk rape or assault on the long walks to gather biomass, and the smoke and residue from the open fire stoves used for cooking and heating pose grave dangers to their health.
Recognizing this alarming reality, Olanike and WEA have partnered together to design and host capacity-building trainings for women leaders from at least 5 states in Nigeria to promote and sell clean cookstoves. These trainings aim to increase participants access to safe, affordable, and energy saving heating and cooking options, support their employment and income generation, and more.
To learn more about Olanike and our WISE Women’s Clean Cookstoves Project, visit us here.
“As a young child, barefoot women and girls carrying heavy containers of water on their heads, walking long distances under the searing sun were a common sight. The reality of this stayed with me, and I knew I would do something about it someday.”
Meet Olanike Olugboji, a WEA founding mother, who participated in our first Women and Water Training in Kenya, and then returned to Nigeria with a clear vision and a strong network. Equipped with technical skills, entrepreneurship training, and seed funding, Olanike launched her own NGO called WISE, which today has trained over 3,000 women in clean energy, safe water technologies, and entrepreneurship. Her work has created refuge for Nigerian women, who risk rape or assault on the long walks to fetch water and firewood, as well as opportunity for women to create a livelihood and secure a future for their children.
After joining WEA as a regional coordinator, Olanike linked with women around the world, and today has a global reach. Olanike is a correspondent with World Pulse, a recipient of numerous international awards, and a participant in several prestigious leadership trainings. WEA is now collaborate with Olanike and her team at WISE to train women in promoting and selling clean cookstoves, linking up with the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves in Nigeria. (If a woman cooks breakfast, lunch and dinner over a wood fire, she suffers the equivalent of smoking between 3 and 20 packets of cigarettes a day. Over 120,000 Nigerian women die annually from inhalation of firewood smoke.) Olanike’s impact on the environment and on women’s well-being and livelihood has only just begun.
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