The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Swayam Shikshan Prayog (SSP) today held an international dialogue on the emerging role of women entrepreneurs in promoting clean energy at the India Habitat Centre in New Delhi. The two-day dialogue called the ‘wPOWER Global Partnership Forum’ was opened jointly by Varsha Joshi, Joint Secretary, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, and John Beed, Mission Director, USAID/India.
The forum brought together grassroots women entrepreneurs in clean energy known as Sakhis (friends) from Maharashtra and Bihar, trained under the Partnership on Women’s Entrepreneurship in Clean Energy (wPOWER) program. The USAID-financed SSP-implemented project is training over 1,000 rural women in entrepreneurship, marketing, sales, and servicing of clean energy products and reaching over 200,000 households in the country.
At the forum, rural women entrepreneurs took to the stage to share their experiences on how the program has unlocked economic growth opportunities in the clean energy business.
Addressing the gathering, Varsha Joshi, MNRE Joint Secretary, said: “Women can play a critical role in the clean energy value-chain and the government is keen to support scaling up of such initiatives.”
“As primary managers of energy in every household, it is women who continue to bear the brunt of energy poverty. USAID believes that engaging women as clean energy entrepreneurs and leaders sparks important change, grows local businesses, and helps create a green economy. As seen under the wPOWER program and at this forum, women are the change-makers,” said USAID/India’s Mission Director John Beed.
The forum highlighted the role of women entrepreneurs as ‘last mile’ connectors to improve clean energy access in underserved areas. Notable speakers spelt out the wPOWER global agenda to catalyze the “women in renewable energy” movement through innovative market-based partnership models, affordable innovations and improved access to technology, finance and markets. High-level experts who participated included Wanjira Mathai of Kenya Chair Greenbelt movement, and corporate leaders from Godrej First Energy and Eureka Forbes.