In 2013, ARTI Energy has partnered with CARE International for the Tanzanian  region of its “Program in Support of Women’s Entrepreneurship in Renewables” (wPower). wPower works with CARE’s existing Village Saving and Loans Associations (VLSAs) that comprise of over one million members and Village Agents (VAs) across Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania.  It uses training and provision of access to products and microfinance to empower the typically female, VAs, to become involved in growing clean energy markets by establishing of their own micro-clean energy enterprises.

Glory Tarimo, Project Officer and Brenda Allan, Solar Technician, demonstrating solar lights to women village agents (VAs) in Tanga Region

How It Works

The first stage of the project identifies VAs within a designated region and provides them with business and technical training required to begin a micro clean energy enterprise. CARE and its country partners (ARTI Energy in Tanzania) will run the training programs with VAs in the districts of these regions. The programs will focus on equipping the VAs with knowledge of basic sales and marketing strategies and along with the skills required to ensure appropriate recording of purchase and sales transactions. This will then supplemented by technical training aimed at developing the VAs understanding of clean energy technology. The VAs also focus on developing a strong knowledge of the features, trouble shooting and installation procedures for a range of clean energy products offered by ARTI.

Following their training the VAs will be given the opportunity to order from the range of low-cost quality solar products and improve cook stoves offered by ARTI. These products combined with their training will then form the base of  the VAs micro-clean energy enterprises, which will focus on the sale of products to members of their VLSA groups and outside community.  The VAs will be able to harness the existing structures and capital of their VSLAs to fund the growth of their enterprises and be able to receive continued advice, services and support from CARE and ARTI.

Village Agents (VAs) are explained the process of becoming renewable energy entrepreneurs.

Project Goals

The wPower project seeks to achieve several objectives surrounding the role of women in the clean energy sector:

  1. “Increasing women’s access to small-scale clean energy markets”
  2. “Encouraging women’s successful ownership and management of small scale last mile clean energy sales and distribution enterprises”
  3. “Increased public awareness of the role of women in clean energy markets”
  4. “Learning, documentation and dissemination of information about economic and environmental benefits of integrating women into clean energy value chains”

The project aims to train over 3,000 Village Agents across Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda to become clean energy entrepreneurs and facilitate their entry into the sector. In Tanzania alone the project seeks to train 320 entrepreneurs a year who are expected to sell over 10,000 low-cost solar products and over 3,000 improved cook stoves across four Regions encompassing 16 Districts.

VAs learnings the benefits of Envirofit’s improved cook stoves

ARTI’s Role

ARTI Energy has committed to providing critical support to CARE Tanzania and the Village Agents to help ensure the success of the wPower project. Initially ARTI will work alongside CARE in organising Village Agents and conducting training programs.  ARTI will incorporate its experience and knowledge of renewable energy markets in Tanzania along with technical expertise in its training programs. It will aim to improve to provide the business skills and product knowledge to the women entrepreneurs that will be required to promote the success of their ventures.

Francis Songela, Access Africa and Dennis Tessier, ARTI Energy, discuss the wPower business model with VAs and the wPower team.

ARTI will then work directly with the Village Agents to provide the quality, affordable solar and cook stove products required to begin their micro-enterprises.  ARTI provide VAs with access to a range of solar products produced by Barefoot Power. Barefoot Power has a history of providing low-cost, quality solar products and has worked with ARTI since 2010.  The products offered will include both solar lanterns and systems that can be marketed by the VAs within their village communities. The products, of varying size, all provide customers clean, reliable and affordable sources of lighting and phone charging.

ARTI also offers VAs the opportunity to purchase improved cook stoves produced by EnviroFit. EnviroFit is one of the largest manufacturers of these low-cost cook stoves in the world and VAs will be able to purchase models that utilise either charcoal or wood. Both models significantly improve energy efficiency and reduce the adverse health effects of traditional cooking methods.

ARTI will also provide VAs with material such as banners and flyers required for the promotion of the products offered by their enterprises. ARTI will also give continuous support to VAs through the provision of after-sales services (such as repair and trouble shooting) along with a constant supply and timely delivery of products.

CARE Tanzania facilitates the ARTI Energy team to reach VAs in most remote villages.