Empower Generation is a Nepal and U.S. based social enterprise that works to build female entrepreneurship and energy access by providing Nepalese women with business skills training, mentorship, and low interest loans to establish and grow clean energy businesses in their rural communities. Since 2011, it has helped 23 women start 20 businesses, deploying 300 sales agents across 12 districts in Nepal. Empower Generation’s distribution network of women-led businesses has sold 58,580 products, including portable solar lights, solar home systems, and clean cookstoves; afforded 294,626 people with cleaner safer, light and power; saved families over USD 2.1 million in household energy expenses; and displaced 12,843 tons of CO2.
According to data from the 2016 World Energy Outlook, 512 million people in Asia live without electricity. Out of this, four million people in Nepal, representing around 15% of the overall population, lack access to electricity. Empower Generation works with these households to move them away from expensive, unreliable, and unhealthy sources of power such as kerosene and candles to affordable, efficient clean technologies.
Empower Generation utilizes a three-pronged approach to ensure efficient delivery of clean energy solutions. This includes:
Not only does this approach result in the delivery of clean energy solutions, it also yields improved health, reduced carbon emissions, and household savings, while providing job opportunities to women and others who have difficulty finding employment.
Many of the women entrepreneurs Empower Generation works with, come from disadvantaged backgrounds, and the opportunity to advocate for and sell life-changing products has significant impact on the welfare of their families and communities.
One of these women is Gita Pariyar, Co-CEO of a clean energy business called Ashmita and Laxmi Saurya Urjah Traders in Gorkha District. Gita comes from the Dalit (Untouchable) caste. Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, Gita educated people in her community on sanitation and clean cookstove usage. She earned little money, working mostly as a volunteer. Since becoming an entrepreneur, Gita’s business has made approximately USD 11,300 in annual sales and employs 12 sales agents from the Dalit and other marginalized casts. Gita was nominated to run as Ward Member of Taklung in her local elections, and in summer 2017, she won. In her new role, Gita says she wants to become a voice for the voiceless and change the fate of the disadvantaged. She wants to increase economic development and bring employment opportunities to her community. Earning an income, employing people, managing a business, and being active in the community gave Gita the skills, confidence and visibility to be nominated, run, and win her political position.
Empower Generation’s mission is to help women like Gita power the world. It is not enough to just make clean energy technology accessible, it is also essential to provide sustainable livelihoods to women. Through this opportunity, women not only gain respect from their families and society through becoming employers and earning an income but also cultivate the leadership skills necessary to create positive change in their communities.
Empower Generation is honoured to partner with wPOWER, working with other like-minded organizations to share best practices and increase impact, focusing on the common goal of supporting women’s entrepreneurship and providing greater global clean energy access.