Working in partnerships with other innovative organisations is a key part of SolarAid’s strategy. We are also recognising the power of women entrepreneurship in providing energy access in rural communities, where women are key change makers. This is a story from SolarAid’s partner in Senegal, ElleSolaire. ElleSolaire works to support women entrepreneurs to build last mile energy businesses bringing solar energy to rural off grid communities.
Fatou Sarr is a young woman living in Baout, rural Senegal. She is married with a three year-old daughter and has been a saleswoman for several different projects over the course of the past few years. She has recently learnt however, that sales is more than just an innate ‘gift of the gab’. While it can help to be persuasive and persistent, qualities that Fatou has in abundance, it is also a profession with a skillset that can be acquired.
Fatou signed up to join ElleSolaire, and on her first day, she attended the ElleSolaire Academy. This mobile learning centre brings together the newly recruited women entrepreneurs in a local venue for three days of classroom and experiential learning about commercial strategy, after-sales service, marketing, solar tech and financial and digital literacy.
During the training, Fatou met local and international women solar entrepreneurship experts and was thrilled to learn about ethical approaches to selling life-enhancing products. She got heartily involved in debating what drives buying decisions and the merits of various grass roots sales methods.
“Since joining ElleSolaire I have understood that savoir-faire is important. Learning how to do things properly does actually help you do things better and means you earn more money to improve your daily life”, says Fatou Sarr.
In Senegal, where 51.8% of the 16,7M population is rural and female literacy is at 40%, facilitating training for female entrepreneurship whereby women are creating their own economic independence is cri tical to progressing towards gender equality.
In less than one year, Fatou has become the most successful saleswoman in her zone within the Fatick region for ElleSolaire and is outpacing the average sales rate by a factor of five. She is keen to do more and earn more as she has understood that economic opportunity is key to facilitating as much freedom as possible for herself. She has even offered to ‘relocate’, saying she is happy to move to a new area of Senegal as ElleSolaire operations grow.
“It is important to me to work hard and earn more money with ElleSolaire because that is how women can be empowered. I have learnt that empowerment does not come without time, effort and learning new skills.”