The WISE Women’s Clean Cookstoves entrepreneurs have been busy lately! Recently, representatives from each cookstove micro-enterprise team gathered together with our project partner WISE in Kaduna city to meet their new project financial advisor, Mrs. Regina Poto. We are thrilled to have her as an advisor because of her long tenure in the banking sector — she is a perfect fit for our WISE team!
During this meeting, the women entrepreneurs were given a refresher course on the financial topics and tools covered during our April and May training intensives. In addition, they also had the opportunity to update their business plans based on real order numbers and operating costs they’ve experienced since being in the field these past two months.
It has been so inspiring to watch these leaders grow their commitment and businesses to provide clean, safe cooking solutions to their communities!
To learn more about the WISE Women’s Clean Cookstoves Project, be sure to visit our project page!
This past April, WEA and WISE (Women’s Initiative for Sustainable Environment) kicked off a series of two training intensives as part of our joint WISE Women’s Clean Cookstoves Training in Kaduna, Nigeria. These trainings aimed not only to provide women in Nigeria with access to life-saving clean cookstoves, but also to equip them with the skills, tools, networks and resources they need to start and scale their own clean cookstove businesses, causing a ripple of clean energy impact throughout their communities.
Why is this so important? Because clean cookstoves saves lives. According to a study done by the World Health Organization, 98,000 Nigerians — mostly women — die annually as a result of smoke inhaled while cooking with firewood. If a woman cooks breakfast, lunch, and dinner for her family with a traditional cookstove, it is the equivalent to smoking 3 to 20 packets of cigarettes a day.
WEA Project Lead and Founder/Director of WISE, Olanike Olugboji, had a chance to talk to some media outlets at the close of the project’s second week-long training intensive at the end of May, and shared with them her own insights on the critical need for this work and women’s entrepreneurial and environmental leadership.
“This project, according to Olugboji, would help to curb deaths resulting from inhalation of smoke from firewood, which she puts at more than [98,000] death annually in the country. She explained that the second phase of the training, which would end on Friday, was designed to strengthen the women’s marketing strategy in promoting the use of clean cook stove…Similarly, a resource person, Ms. Happy Amos, described clean cook stove as “a social enterprise”, not only for its financial gains, but also for its social and environmental impact.” — Nigeria News Network
We’re incredibly honored to be involved in this project, and are so inspired by the continued effort and commitment of the women who participated in the training and are now entrepreneurs in their communities!
We’ll be sharing updates with you as we hear back from training participants on the launch of their own businesses, but until then, here’s a roundup of articles that covered this groundbreaking training:
This [training] will help empower fellow women leaders in their communities, and break the structural barriers which limit the success of renewable energy initiatives around the world. This initiative is highly commended by the Nigerian Alliance for Clean Cookstoves…
We are honored to have this work highlighted by an amazing organization, and one whose own work is so inspiring, like the Nigerian Alliance for Clean Cookstoves! Read the entire article here.
The 15 cookstove teams are now back home, gathering information to build their business models during the final training retreat at the end of May!
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.
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