A gender based training event run by GVEP has been equipping women with knowledge and skills as well as boosting their confidence to tackle the predominantly male-run activities of stove cladding and assembling.
Janet Adeyo, a business woman and a mother of four from Nyahera, a small village on the shores of Lake Victoria, Kenya, is a role model to many women in the region. Janet has become well known in Kisumu for producing high quality improved cookstoves. She has recently attracted the attention of Kenya’s national television station and was invited to share her story on a talk show. This in turn has contributed to her local fame and constituted a launching pad for her business beyond her region.
“It was not until I met GVEP staff who trained and mentored me on business development that I came to realize the potential for my micro-business to grow,” explained Janet.
Equipped with a well-crafted marketing plan (developed with assistance from a GVEP business mentor) she secured a loan of USD$1,500 from Ecobank to scale up her production of cookstove liners and to move into a new area of business: that of constructing fully assembled cook stoves. She also employed four new permanent staff.
“Since I obtained the loan in March, 2013, I have been able to produce 120 assembled improved cookstoves, as well as molding 1,400 units of cookstoves liners every month,” she explains. The business she admits is now more profitable. “I look forward to doubling my sales to USD$3,000 a month by June, 2014,” said Janet.
Women in Kisumu are now venturing into what has always been a predominantly male activity in renewable energy enterprises. Apart from molding quality liners for improved cook stoves, they have gone an extra mile into owning stove cladding and assembling businesses.
A recent networking event organized by GVEP in Kisumu, brought together women entrepreneurs and enabled them to share theirprofessional experiences and exchange ideas, as well as facilitating networking and establishing new financial links. Such events create conducive environments for women to speak openly about the challenges they face and also to receive training in business management, record keeping and marketing strategies. Local financial institutions including Ecobank and Women Enterprise Fund were present to introduce financial opportunities available to invest in business expansion.
‘Women have a chance to adopt cleaner cooking technologies and fuels in a variety of roles; cooks, entrepreneurs, marketers and technology champions,” stressed Laura Clough, acting Kenya Country Manager. “They are in a unique position to utilize their networks both as users, manufacturers and retailers of cooking technology to influence other women on the need to shift to cleaner cooking technologies and practices. Stove cladding and assembling is often an area dominated by men. But Janet Adeyo’s success story demonstrates that women can tap into a market that has enormous opportunities”, said Laura.
Through the Capital Access for Renewable Energy Enterprises (CARE2) project in East Africa, GVEP is currently supporting 74 women entrepreneurs involved in the production of improved cookstoves and biomass briquettes through trainings and mentorship. The Spark Fund project (an initiative sponsored by the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves), which co-funds the CARE2 project is also working with women to tackle issues in stove design and improved production. The grant is providing vital support to improve the performance and quality of locally manufactured efficient cookstoves in Kenya.