New study highlights great return on investment for Empowered Entrepreneur Training

By Energy 4 Impact

A recent study conducted by Visionaria to measure the return on investment (ROI) of the Empowered Entrepreneur Training on women in the clean cooking supply chain in Tanzania revealed a Return on Investment of 116%.

Developed by the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, in collaboration with Energy 4 Impact, the Empowered Entrepreneur Training methodology was published into a Handbook in 2015 for organisations that support clean energy women entrepreneurs to improve their self-confidence, business and leadership skills.

Globally, 3 billion people – or 40% of the world population – still rely on biomass for cooking, lighting and heating. Exposure to household air pollution from traditional cooking practices alone is estimated to kill over 4 million people annually. Increased engagement of local women entrepreneurs is considered crucial for scaling the distribution and adoption of cleaner cookstoves that can reduce the negative impacts of reliance on biomass and traditional cooking technologies. This is due to their central role in household energy management and use.

The study was commissioned by Energy 4 Impact and Winrock International, which has been rolling out empowered training programmes, which build key business and leadership skills, empowering women to focus on their goals and take advantage of opportunities as they arise. In previous evaluations, positive impacts were measured for participants, demonstrating evidence of entrepreneurs’ personal growth and improved sales performance. The study was conducted between January and August 2018 and involved 147 entrepreneurs. The baseline data was collected between January and March 2018. The WIRE project team in Tanzania collected monitoring data from these entrepreneurs on a quarterly basis and this was forwarded to Visionaria for analysis and conclusion on the trends.

This study sought to assess and quantify the ROI of the Empowered Training activities included in Energy 4 Impact’s WIRE programme, which aims to promote women’s integration into renewable energy value chains in Kenya and Tanzania. Ultimately, the study lends greater insight into the business case for other organisations conducting such trainings in the clean cooking sector.

The study found that the training had a ROI of 116% which was calculated by ‘monetising’ the reduced amount of mentorship time required for trained women entrepreneurs compared to the cost of conducting the training. In addition to this positive ROI, those entrepreneurs that attended the training recorded a 10.3% increase in sales whilst those that did not attend recorded a 5% increase over the same period compared to the baseline. The reduced mentoring time enables the programme to spend more time on other value add activities and mentoring an increased number of entrepreneurs.

The study also found that the Empowered Training methodology was effective in creating other intangible benefits prioritised by the WIRE programme, even though these are not readily described in monetary terms. They include increases in resilience, confidence in problem solving, self-esteem and work motivation.

In particular, the data shows a 25% increase in the number of participants being confident in problem solving and a 44% increase in the number of participants reporting high or very high self-esteem. Furthermore, there was a 56% increase in the number of participants that reported being strongly motivated in work and a 33% surge in the number of participants who felt that gender is not limiting their success.

“We deployed some of the modules from the Handbook to develop our curricula and tools for three days initial training on business skills, empowerment, and leadership. Five of our business development support teams have attended training of trainers course and are certified by Winrock International to conduct such training. We have applied this methodology to train over 400 women energy entrepreneurs in rural Kenya and Tanzania,” explains Godfrey Sanga, Energy 4 Impact Head of Programmes and Operations in Tanzania.

In 2012/2013, Energy 4 Impact was involved in developing the handbook by providing materials for the business section, which covers marketing and customer care, costing and pricing, financial planning and management, and business growth and expansion.

“Studies like this are a crucial part of our monitoring, evaluation and learning function at Energy 4 Impact. They provide us with a robust evidence base for designing cost effective programmes with a high level of impact. Additionally, in conjunction with our continuous M&E process they allow us to assess the effectiveness of our existing initiatives and modify them accordingly to increase focus on what works and adjust less effective aspects,” says Jonathan Clowes, Energy 4 Impact Africa Programmes Manager.