Location: Tarai Region, Nepal
As one of the poorest countries in the world, half of Nepal’s population is currently living below the poverty line. Only 40% of the population has access to grid-electricity, which is unreliable. Many are forced to rely on expensive and dangerous kerosene, candles, and disposable torches as primary energy sources. In addition, women and children are usually the ones that are left most susceptible to these commonly used energy source’s harmful effects, as they are the primary household energy managers. The concentrated smoke from fuel combustion indoors, contributes to respiratory problems that kill millions of women and children every year. High quality and affordable solar power systems exist, but adoption of the technology depends on its availability through local distribution. Empower Generation solves the problem by training local women to sell solar systems and offering innovative financing options to customers, turning energy from a life-threatening struggle into a life-changing opportunity.
Co-Founders Anya Cherneff and Bennett Cohen saw opportunity in Nepal’s energy struggle, and found a way to both offer sustainable employment to impoverished women, and provide widespread clean energy in the developing country. The two collaborated to become agents for change by empowering women to become clean energy entrepreneurs. This collaboration led to a unique model that connects investors and suppliers to women and consumers in Nepal. Impact lenders and clean energy technology suppliers provide capital and products that go into clean energy and women’s entrepreneur funds. Women entrepreneurs receive low interest loans to start clean energy business, and their customers receive loans from the clean energy fund to make their purchases. Reliable local savings and credit cooperatives administer these funds, and Empower Generation also provides mentoring for women developing their clean-energy businesses.
Empower Generation’s efforts have jump started 13 women-led businesses, and connected 227,448 people with cleaner, safer light and power. Since 2011, they have sold 42,896 solar products, saving $1,661,153 US dollars on household energy expenses and displacing almost 8,000 tons of CO2. Since the devastating earthquakes that occurred in Nepal, Empower Generation has shifted focus towards providing clean energy through a donor-funded project, Project Sol. In five months, the project has provided 10,995 solar lights, mobile chargers, and home systems distributed across 15 districts. The project efforts have reached 72,343 survivors, providing them with clean, safe light and power. Additionally 45 women and girls have been trained and joined the Empower Generation network as business leaders and sales agents. Women working in the Empower Generation network earn income and respect, while providing their communities with much-needed energy solutions enabling families to work, study, and make their homes safer. Empower Generation’s unique approach is truly working as an agent for change creating a resilient, energized, and empowered Nepal.
Environmental Impact: Reliable clean energy, reduced carbon emissions, greener economic development
Measurement: Empower Generation
Sources: Empower Generation
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