<i>By Mumakeith</i>

One early Sunday morning, destination; Ruhanga in Ntungamo district to meet some of the “solarpreneurs.” The project was initiated by Katherine Lucey because of her envisaged passion to give women an opportunity to make money from something needed by society. The ladies targeted are mainly in Rural Uganda where women are sidelined by their husbands to stay home confined to the kitchen and other home chores. Its common practice in rural Africa that women are made to stay home. Empowerment of such woman starts with giving them something to do so they can make money and begin to rely on themselves.

So back to Ruhanga, Ntungamo where Solar Sister Uganda’s Program Coordinator Evelyn Namara met with the solar sister women. We left Kampala at around 7am and by 11am we were at the Uganda Lodge in Ruganga. The Uganda Lodge setting is rural with grass roofed mud houses, equipped with electricity and running water, a bar, pool table, darts board and DSTV.

The women were supposed to be around by midday however they delayed by over two hours. Ruhanga is a hilly area and the women have to trek incredible distances to the Uganda Lodge that is by the main road in the valley. On a Sunday morning also, is that religion is held with the deepest regard with church services starting at 11am and ending at around 2pm. Midday always looked like a tough target for them since they needed to go to church and also finish up with some of the chores at home. That aside though, some of the women showed up early.

After the meeting at 2pm, the women are given solar powered lamps and some of which have cell-phone chargers. The women are required to sale them to people around the community. For every lamp sold, they earn a commission that they can put to use on their own terms. There are two benefits of this project, one is empowering women and second is to support green energy by utilizing the power of the sun. Communities and households get to spend less on energy as it is a one time expenditure rather than daily expenditure on kerosene for a lamp. One of the lamps is equipped with a cellphone charger saving households from having to walk to the nearest trading center to get their phones charged.

All in all, the women are selling (supply) a solution that the community needs (demand) and also earning commission off what they are selling. By around 4pm the best performing women are rewarded. But before we leave I notice how outgoing these women are expressing sincere appreciation to Solar Sister for the being part of their lives. It was not surprising that some were insisting we visit their homes and dine with them.

Time check 4:30pm and we checked out of Ruhanga Lodge after a worthwhile trip.

<i>"Solar Sister - African women led grassroots green energy revolution” is a partnership of non-government organisations, womens’ organisations and solar-lighting producers. They run a direct sales network of women entrepreneurs, selling solar-powered lanterns as a clean and non-hazardous light source for rural households." From UNEP after the organisation won the UN SEED Award Winners 2011 With Focus on African Entrepreneurs.