The project reduces poverty and provides an opportunity through access to electricity, advances gender equality by supporting women to become entrepreneurs, and ensures environmentally sustainable solutions are integral to the progress made. The Solar Mamas initiative offers the unique potential to foster intersectional innovation in rural communities and to initiate significant change for generations to come.
Through a partnership with the Barefoot College, our Solar Mamas project builds upon the deep and long-standing relationships Great Plains has with rural communities in Botswana’s Okavango Delta region to provide local women with job skills and entrepreneurial assistance in the sustainable energy sector. The Solar Mamas initiative empowers local women to improve their economic prospects while providing a much-needed service to their communities through solar-powered electrical systems. This program is a second chance for women.
Solar Mamas participants are all women over age 30 who are established in their communities. They leave their rural villages in Africa to attend a five-month training program in India. The training teaches these women to build, install, and maintain solar panels and batteries to provide a renewable source of energy to their communities. When their training is complete, the women return to their villages and begin processing orders from families requesting home lighting systems. Each solar engineer uses her newly gained skills and knowledge to install and maintain these systems. She is empowered to establish and run a business that provides sustainable energy and leads to increased opportunity and self-sufficiency for her community.
Through our enduring ties to the local communities, Great Plains identified nine women from five villages to participate in this first round of Solar Mamas training with Barefoot College. We are proud to say that these nine women returned home in February 2020 after the successful completion of their training, and they are now at work establishing their businesses.
Our vision is to continue to recruit new classes of women each year and to scale our success to communities in the other countries where we operate, including Kenya and Zimbabwe. We rely on charitable support and partners to support our community initiatives that elevate women, giving them the opportunity for a prosperous life that inspires whole community change.