Strengthen Women’s Capacity to Participate in and Benefit From Energy Markets

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Within ENERGIA’s Women’s Economic Empowerment Programme, Practical Action Eastern Africa and Sustainable Community Development Services (SCODE) are implementing the Women in Energy Enterprises in Kenya (WEE-K) project to build and expand businesses in three renewable energy markets: improved cookstoves, solar products, and biomass briquettes. 

The overall objective is to strengthen women's capacity to effectively participate in and benefit from energy markets. The project uses an enterprise development model to empower women economically and provides tailor-made support to women entrepreneurs in markte assessment. It also seeks to expand and strengthen entrepreneurial associations for business owners to provide additional support.

Margaret Kariuki: a new briquette entrepreneur

A single mother of three, Margaret Kariuki used to sell milk to earn a living in Lanet

Umoja in Nakuru county of Kenya. Now she runs a successful briquette business, thanks to training and mentorship from Practical Action. When Ms. Kariuki started her business, she did so without a business plan. She understood basic concepts about bookkeeping, though product promotion and marketing were entirely new to her. 

“I started with a capital of 200 shillings (approximately USD 2.00) and I was able to produce 90 kilograms of briquettes”, Ms. Kariuki told us. “Even so, I did not reach positive cash flow until Practical Action sent mentors who provided technical and business skills training. They advised me on good marketing approaches, and how to ensure a minimum quality standard for my briquettes.” 

One of her greatest challenges was convincing people to use briquettes; many people in Lanet were used to charcoal, and were not willing to try out the new product. Ms. Kariuki applied some of the strategies she learned during her training, and began providing target customers with free samples. 

“After about one month, I began receiving positive feedback from customers, and my sales doubled!” Ms. Kariuki said. “The training I received from Practical Action, and specifically the guidance I received from mentors, was really helpful in growing my business. Their support has made a big difference in my financial life.”

Reaching over 350,000 with clean energy technologies

Ms. Kariuki is one of the many WEE-K project success stories. Before it is completed, the project aims to reach 730 small-scale women energy entrepreneurs (MSEs), who will in turn reach 364,200 beneficiaries, including women, men, children, and institutions in need. The entrepreneurs will provide their communities with cleaner energy technologies and options, and contribute to environmental preservation in the project areas. In addition, as their businesses grow, an additional 450 men and women will be employed by the women entrepreneurs in rural and peri-urban areas across seven counties in the country. So far, 603 women have been recruited under the WEE-K project and are receiving technology and business mentorship. Each entrepreneur is linked to a technology mentor and a business mentor to heighten the potential of success. 

In addition, Practical Action and SCODE also lobby for adoption of women’s economic empowerment approaches to deliver new targets for universal modern energy access nationally, regionally and internationally. Specifically, they work with the Ministry of Energy & Petroleum in Kenya to ensure gender and decentralized energy systems remain central to Kenya’s SE4All Action Plans. They are working with ENERGIA-Kenya CSO partners, the government, donors, private sector and the media to mainstream gender in regional and national energy plans and investments. Finally, through their national gender and energy outreach campaign, they aim to reach 2 million people. Through all of this, they hope to ensure that energy advocates include gender-aware approaches to their energy access projects.


ENERGIA is an international network of like-minded organisations and professionals, active in 22 countries in Asia and Africa. Our vision is that women and men have equal and equitable access to  and  control  over  sustainable energy  services  as  an  essential  human  right  to development.  To achieve this, we: 

  • contribute  to  energy  access  for  all  by  scaling  up  the  delivery  of  energy  services  through women-led micro- and small businesses, 
  • advocate  for  and  provide  technical  support  to  mainstream  gender  approaches in  energy policies and programmes, 
  • provide the evidence base for improving energy investment effectiveness through research,
  • raise  awareness  and  enhance  knowledge  of  issues  related  to  gender  and  energy  through networking and knowledge products. 

ENERGIA International Secretariat is hosted by Hivos, people unlimited