WOMEN EMPOWERMENT

Azuri Technologies brightens women's lives through solar initiative

British High Commissioner to Kenya Jane Marriott said the programme is a significant step towards tackling some of the barriers women face.

In Summary

• Brighter Lives Initiative according to the company, is aimed at bringing more rural women into the off-grid solar sector.

•  It includes tailored recruitment targeting rural women, who are "largely under-represented in the workplace".

British High Commissioner Jane Marriott and Azuri Technologies CEO Simon Bransfield-Garth during the Brighter Lives Initiative launch with rural solar ambassadors in Nairobi on February 19, 2020
British High Commissioner Jane Marriott and Azuri Technologies CEO Simon Bransfield-Garth during the Brighter Lives Initiative launch with rural solar ambassadors in Nairobi on February 19, 2020
Image: COURTESY

“When you empower a woman, you empower the world".

Azuri Technologies, a pioneer in pay-as-you-go solar home solutions for off-grid Africa, on Wednesday launched its Brighter Lives Initiative.

The initiative, according to the company, is aimed at bringing more rural women into the off-grid solar sector.

 

CEO Simon Bransfield-Garth said  the initiative will provide employment and training to 250 new female recruits. Azuri hosted its inaugural Women in Solar event at the British High Commission on Wednesday.

"We are committed to equality, fairness and respect and we recognise the solar energy sector offers women a source of well-paid employment with strong opportunities for career advancement,” Bransfield-Garth said.

Notably, the initiative includes tailored recruitment targeting rural women, who are "largely under-represented in the workplace".

The company will deliver a training curriculum across its regional training centres, which offer a flexible working environment with additional guidance given on balancing work with family duties, and unlocking financial services previously unavailable to them.

Azuri is partnering with Unilever East Africa in the project.

According to UN Women, rural women are key agents for achieving the transformational economic, environmental and social changes required for sustainable development.

"But limited access to credit, healthcare and education are among the many challenges they face, which are further aggravated by the global food and economic crises and climate change," UN Women says.

 

"Empowering them is key not only to the well-being of individuals, families and rural communities, but also to overall economic productivity, given women’s large presence in the agricultural workforce worldwide."

Among the solutions UN Women recommends is the participation of rural women in shaping laws, strategies, policies and programmes on issues that affect their lives and rural livelihoods.

Training equips them with skills to pursue new livelihoods and adapt technology to their needs.

"I am confident this Initiative will light the path for many more women to step up and change Africa’s future for the better,” Marriott said on Wednesday.
British High Commissioner to Kenya Jane Marriott

British High Commissioner to Kenya Jane Marriott said the Brighter Lives Initiative is a significant step towards tackling some of the barriers women face.

"I am confident this Initiative will light the path for many more women to step up and change Africa’s future for the better,” Marriott said on Wednesday.

She noted that energy security remains a major challenge across Africa as 60 per cent of African businesses cite access to reliable power as a major constraint on their growth.  Power outages cost African countries between an estimated 1 to 2 per cent of their GDP annually, she added.

 "According to a recent McKinsey report, creating more opportunities for women to work could add $12 trillion- (or 11 per cent) - to the value of the global economy by 2025. In addition, reducing gender inequality will boost African economies by an estimated $316 billion over the coming years."

She, however, notes that powering up rural communities will stimulate economic activity in agriculture and other sectors such as manufacturing, retail, timber and carpentry.

Azuri has been operating in sub-Saharan Africa since 2012 and has sold more than 200,000 systems to date. It has invested around Sh2 billion to date with access to a further Sh2 billion in debt funding in Kenya.

Unilever East Africa CEO Justin Apsey said the initiative is a renewable energy and sustainable solution that respects gender equality.

"By creating and supporting opportunities for women in society and the economy, there couldn’t be a better way to lead in creating a brighter future for all Kenyans as we turn the world into a more prosperous place to live for everybody.”