The Alliance received more than 100 applications from over 20 countries, making this the most competitive WEF round to date. Winners will address a range of focus areas, including:
- Burn Manufacturing Co., which will identify and refine informal consumer financing mechanisms for women in Kenya
- Bidhaa Sasa, which will test and expand the marketing and sale of cooking solutions on credit, centered on women groups’ leaders in Kenya
- CARE International, which will equip ethnic minority women in Vietnam with knowledge and skills to run clean cookstove microentreprises
- Burro, which will train women in Ghana to rent out their institutional stoves when not in use to increase their incomes
“Thanks to the WEF funding, we can strengthen our network of women-led groups, ultimately proving that household needs can be best served when women are fully involved in the process," said Rocío Ochoa, co-founder and Director of Bidhaa Sasa.
First launched in 2013, the WEF is a unique funding mechanism that allows women-owned enterprises and women working in the clean cooking sector to pilot innovative interventions aiming to increase opportunities female employees, sales agents, and producers - among others. Winners from previous years hailed from Uganda, India, Guatemala, Kenya, Nigeria, and Haiti - demonstrating the geographic diversity, as well as reflecting the need for financing solutions to back the growth of the global clean household energy market.
“WEF funding is critical as we scale-up new innovations to improve the productivity and well-being of our customers across Ghana and beyond,” said Whit Alexander, founder of Burro. “Thanks to this support, we will dramatically accelerate adoption of our improved cassava roasting solution, the Burro Gari Elephant, by empowering hundreds of entrepreneurial women to build up clean-energy businesses and demonstrate to thousands more women the dramatic improvements to their income, health, and safety enabled by this firewood-saving breakthrough.”
The WEF is part of the Alliance’s overall strategy to address the key barriers to scaling women's empowerment and gender-informed approaches in the clean cooking sector. It is one of the few financing mechanisms designed to enhance business models by empowering women energy entrepreneurs. This grant mechanism facilitates capacity building and provides funding to enterprises to increase the number of women earning income in the cooking value chain, and to test innovative approaches. The aim is to build the evidence and make the business case for effective, gender-informed approaches.
Past WEF winners include AEST, Solar Sister, Essmart, Frontier Markets, and Mercy Corps. Their completed projects utilized indicators and methodologies from the Alliance's Social Impact M&E Framework developed in collaboration with the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW).
Additional details on grantees:
Burn Manufacturing Co. – BURN Manufacturing Co. is a social enterprise that works to improve the lives of women and girls with the efficient charcoal-burning jikokoa™ and wood-burning kuniokoa™ stoves, which were designed and are produced by women at BURN‘s state-of-the-art factory in Kenya. Under the WEF grant, BURN seeks to empower more women by providing them direct access to consumer financing to purchase and sell clean cookstoves.
Burro – Burro is a Ghana-based retail company working to profitably deliver life-enhancing innovations including clean cookstove technology to families across Ghana. Under the WEF, Burro will team up with VOTO Mobile to leverage Burro’s breakthrough cassava processing clean cookstove and VOTO’s unique messaging capabilities to scale up a network of rural women entrepreneurs.
Bidhaa Sasa – Bidhaa Sasa is a woman-led enterprise in Kenya that combines financing and last-mile distribution of modern household goods in a one-stop shop. Under the WEF, Bidhaa Sasa will use Tupperware-style direct selling techniques - by women for women - to deliver life improving products like clean cookstoves to its clients’ doorsteps and make all products payable in affordable instalments.
CARE - CARE International in Vietnam (CARE) in partnership with the Green Generation Joint Stock Company (GreenGen) will promote the economic empowerment of ethnic minority women through clean cookstove microenterprises in two northern mountainous provinces of Vietnam. Building on an established network of CARE-supported Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLA), the project will recruit ethnic minority women VSLA members and train them to establish clean cookstove microenterprises.
We thank our generous Women’s Empowerment Fund donors, past and current: The United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), the U.S. Department of State, and The Caterpillar Foundation.
Women’s Energy Entrepreneurship workshop – 2017
The Alliance will be hosting a workshop in Nairobi in February with the wPOWER hub, where current and past WEF grantees will share lessons learned and best practices with the community working on women’s entrepreneurship in the household energy sector. The Alliance and other key stakeholders will discuss women’s energy entrepreneurship and explore the role of gender-informed energy access approaches that scale access to energy; as well as how to increase gender equality and women’s empowerment through the sector.