Last month Sistema.bio participated in a workshop on Advancing the Role of Women in Tanzania’s Sustainable Energy Value Chains. The workshop was organized by solar sister Tanzania in collaboration with UN Foundation and Energia and it brought together diverse practitioners in the energy sector from the government, private sector and the civil society. Sistema.bio was invited to participate in this interactive workshop and we are excited that energy players in Tanzania recognizes and is supportive of Sistema.Bio’s work.
Opening the workshop, Fatma Muzo Solar Sister Country Manger in Tanzania pointed out the critical role of women involvement in tackling poverty in remote areas through providing access to clean energy solutions. Luc Severi from UN foundation also pointed out that gender is a cross cutting issue which means that the players in the renewable energy sector can draw lessons from best practices of other sectors and adapt them to the energy sector needs. He also highlighted the intersection of energy and Health as an anecdote for the workshop
The participants recognized the critical role of women in enhancing a sustainable energy value chain. This is due to the fact that women are disappropriately affected by lack of clean and sustainable energy solutions. However, a strong disclaimer was pointed out that both men and women have to be involved in order to enhance women’s participation. Four components of the workshop are particularly critical to Sistema.Bio’s efforts of making sustainable energy solutions accessible and affordable to everyone
- The need for quality assurance
There is emergence of several counterfeit products in the energy space that is becoming counterproductive to the developing market. The civil society is working hand in hand with the Tanzanian government to ensure development and adherence to quality standards by the private sector players through supporting programs to develop inclusive standards and regulations. Women’s voice should be heard through all policy and standards & regulations set-up as was pointed out that women need to feel valued and be reassured that their opinion counts.
Sistema.bio through its established implementation methodology is committed to ensuring that all its clients receive quality Hybrid Reactor Digesters that are professionally installed with adequate client education and monitoring to ensure optimal benefits and sustained use. Sistema.bio has also partnered with the Kenya Biogas Program; Market facilitator and biogas regulator in Kenya. This partnership allows a double check on quality delivered to all Sistema.bio clients
2. Providing access to finance
Access to finances was pointed out as a major barrier to accessing energy products. The civil society in Tanzania is working on mapping microfinance institutions and creating linkages between the private sector and the end users to ensure adequate reach of the last mile consumers. The need to empower women economically was particularly emphasized because women are always receptive to new opportunities. It was also noted that it’s not enough to only provide economic facilitation to them but they need to be trained on how to manage funds to enable for sustainability of such engagements
Sistema.Bio through its in-house credit plan provides flexible payment plans to its clients at 0% interests. This allows them to eliminate the first economic barrier to accessing the Hybrid Reactor technology. It is also seeking to partner with women lead organization to advance gender inclusion in the renewable energy space as well as train women on financial management
3. Need for market intelligence
The participants highlighted market intelligence as a prerequisite to success in the energy sector. This enables the players to stay conscious of the developments in the market as was pointed out by Halima, a Solar Sister entrepreneur, that her focus on quality has enabled her to maintain an edge despite several counterfeit products hitting the market.
Product trust was also highlighted as a key driver to purchase of energy products and services and players gave evidence that women are more trusted than men in delivery of this products. It was agreed that companies should take advantage of this and invest in creating trust with its clients as well as engage women in key functions such as marketing and customer service management
Sistema.bio uses a Client Relationship Management (CRM) tool, which is an interactive online system that gathers all important market information on smartphones (distribution, contacts, capacity building, sales, benefit analysis, payment plans, etc.) allowing real time flow of the sales and distribution process, payments, and field operations. This data is analyzed and continuously used to inform all the market processes towards increasing uptake of the Hybrid Reactor Biodigesters.
4. Enhancing consumer education
The importance of consumer education was highlighted throughout the workshop. The key aspect being that education should be cross cutting to both men and women. Apart from the fact that the decisions are consultative it was acknowledged that men and women benefit from the energy products but it socially impacts them differently. And while there is knowledge in the rural areas about energy products, it is not enough. Of particular importance is the need to push for communities especially women to understand the impact of energy on health. Government and stakeholders were called upon to support in advancing the role of women involvement and education in the energy sector because when women benefits it is a plus to the entire community.
Sistema.bio, recognizing the gender perspective to energy and the importance of consumer education, has built a gender lens into all its sales, marketing and communication processes. It is currently piloting a marketing strategy that is gender targeted in collaboration with Value for Women. Additionally it has developed a package with outreach tools, presentations, communications campaigns, educational tools, and installation and user manuals that ensures adequate education on its Hybrid Reactor Biodigesters and services.
Energy is the key to all forms of development and to achieve sustained progress everyone has to advance their role. This is because even if women were empowered and are not willing to take active role then the efforts will be a waste. The government committed to working with stakeholders at all levels to encourage public- private partnerships in provision of sustainable energy solutions and especially in advancing the role of women in the sector.
Eleven years ago we started this project; now we are in Kenya! It has been made possible by the huge effort of our team; who have contributed to form Sistema.bio to change the world, and make it a fairer and more sustainable place through the use of biodigesters. To this date, we have treated more than 5.5 tons of waste, produced more than 16.5 million cubic meters of biogas, avoided more than 73,000 tons of green house gases and fertilized over 100,000 ha with biol every year; with beneficiaries in Latin America, Africa, and India.
Thanks for believing in us!