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.”
The WISE Women’s Clean Cookstoves Project—a partnership between WEA and WISE (Women’s Initiative for Sustainable Environment) in Nigeria—answers this very call.
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.
*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.