The nine women from rural Botswana left their homes in August last year. They traveled all the way to India to attend a training program at the Barefoot College, in Rajasthan, which started for them an incredible journey of skills development. They now came back home with new qualifications in hand, which will enable them to light up their communities with solar power and furthermore prove themselves as leaders and experienced women entrepreneurs in their communities.
Great Plains works with local community organisations in the region of the Okavango Delta, including the Okavango Community Trust (OCT), the Village Development Committees (VDC) and each Dikgosi (village chiefs). Together they identified the nine women from five villages who received the training in India on solar energy.
The initiative is aimed at enabling women to build, install and maintain solar panels and batteries to provide a renewable source of energy to their communities. Barefoot College has been working on the program for over 30 years providing training to rural, unemployed women to become solar engineers – bringing clean power and light to their villages. The training lasts for 5 months, and the program uses mostly visual learning tools, like color-coded pictures and manuals. All the women selected are over 30 and are established in their communities.
After successfully completing their training the women are returning to their villages to start working and empowering their communities with skills and power. They will oversee the construction of Rural Electrification Workshops, which will be a base for the storage of the solar equipment and their tools. A Village Electrification and Energy Committee (VEEC) will then be established, to oversee the Solar Engineers and orders from the families who wish to receive solar home lighting systems. The women will be responsible for installing and maintaining these solar home lighting systems, continuing their existing enterprises with improved financial understanding, and provide training to other women in their villages, based on their experiences in India.
“Solar energy is gradually becoming a go-to sustainable power source, inspiring many along the way. At Great Plains, we understand that empowering women will go a long way in ensuring sustainability and longevity in supporting their families and contributing to the development of their communities. We are truly grateful and proud of these women, this will open many doors for them.”
Dereck Joubert, Great Plains founder and CEO.
The Great Plains is proud to work with the Barefoot College who has been doing incredible work in this space for women around the world. They seek to demystify and decentralise technology and put new tools in the hands of the rural poor with a singular objective of spreading self-sufficiency and sustainability.
The women arrived back in Maun, Botswana on the 19th of February, where they were greeted by a welcome-home celebration, hosted at the Great Plains offices. The women met with their families on the 20th of February and are ready to begin the next chapter of their journey.
Photos courtesy of the very talented Lawrence Miglialo and Asutosh Kashyap.
To support Barefoot’s mission to train more women, click here.