Solar Sister is building an ecosystem of innovative Public-Private-People partnerships which are at the heart of our approach to bring a systems change to global energy poverty. We have established relationships with partner organizations, both on the ground with implementation partners, with inventors, technology providers and institutional partners, with funders and social impact investors as well as with everyday changemakers committed to addressing the extreme global energy poverty. At the grassroots level, Solar Sister partners with local women’s groups to benefit from their existing infrastructure and deep roots in the community. One of our key initial partnerships is with The Mother’s Union of Uganda, which has been providing family support services for over 100 years in over 60,000 rural communities in Uganda. The Mother’s Union Family Life program is working closely with Solar Sister to provide access to affordable solar lamps through ‘merry-go-round’ purchase groups. Our other partners include Women of Kireka, Aliat Uganda, Women for Women, and Maranatha Schools.
Our technology partners are leaders in the area of portable solar solutions for offgrid markets. These include the World Bank and International Financial Corporation’s Lighting Africa Award Winners D.Light and Barefoot Power; SunNight Solar, Angaza Design, PiSat Solar, Nokero and LifeLine Energy. Solar Sister’s role as a last mile distribution channel to the Bottom of the Pyramid market with a women-centric focus is unique and valued by the manufacturers. We are able to provide product specific feedback that can help them design their products.
Our most important partners are the Solar Sister Entrepreneurs. They are the secret sauce of Solar Sister's success. It is their energy, ingenuity, passion and desire to succeed that powers our growth. It is a mutually beneficial relationship, when the individual Entrepreneurs succeed, Solar Sister succeeds. The women invest their sweat equity and social capital into their businesses while we provide the access to technology and business support.
We have ongoing discussions for collaboration with the African Wildlife Foundation to integrate clean energy and gender issues in their conservation efforts. We are also in dialogue to compliment our training and capacity building programs in association with the Global Village Energy Partnership's Developing Energy Enterprises Project (DEEP) in East Africa and with the Center for Development and Population Activities (CEDPA) which has empowered millions of women and girls with the conviction that " when women move forward, the world moves forward". CEDPA is a partner of ExxonMobil's Women’s Economic Opportunity Initiative which also supports Solar Sister. We were an Early Entry Prize Winner in Women | Tools | Technology: Building Opportunities & Economic Power Competition in 2010. The ensuing partnership with Ashoka Changemakers and ExxonMobil Foundation has proved to be a great catalyst in Solar Sister's evolution as a growing high impact social enterprise since then and we hope to continue building on these vital opportunities to learn and grow as a social enterprise. Solar Sister's Program Coordinator in Uganda will be participating in CEDPA's Exxon Mobil supported intensive women’s leadership and management workshop titled Global Women in Management: Advancing Women’s Economic Opportunities in Abuja, Nigeria from August 1 – 26 while our Director of Programs and Development ( also our Chief of Collaborations!) will be training participants from around the world at CEDPA's Women's Management Leadership program in Washington,D.C. through Solar Sister's case study.
Education and Outreach is a key component of our work. Solar Sister joined hands with the Earth Day Network to engage and educate over 100 young environmentalists from around the U.S about the role of women in building a clean energy economy at Powershift 2011. We have partnered with the Alliance for Rural Electrification to increase awareness about the huge gender dimension of energy poverty. We are a partner of Invent for Humanity, Center for Applied Innovation's Technology Transfer Exchange Fair. Solar Sister Founder and CEO Katherine Lucey serves on both the Gender and Empowerment Coordinating Committee and the Reaching Consumers Committee of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves. Katherine has also been selected to participate in the Global Social Benefit Incubator (GSBI)2011, a program developed by Santa Clara University’s Center for Science, Technology, and Society to assist leading social benefit entrepreneurs. Solar Sister is a Non-Profit partner of 1% for the Planet , a growing global alliance of businesses financially committed to creating a healthy planet. Most recently, Katherine participated in a panel discussion about solutions to energy poverty at the opening of a photo exhibit "Life Without Light" by photographer Peter DiCampo that brought together a cross-section of people from the photography, social enterprise, humanitarian, academic and energy worlds.
Being an Early Entry Prize Winner in this competition has opened new doors of partnership for Solar Sister. We have been introduced to new partners and collaborators as a result of the exposure of our entry, including additional product partners to add clean cookstoves to the Solar Sister Entrepreneurs' portfolio of products in their business in a bag and a carbon finance consolidator to work with to capture and monetize the carbon credits. We have had preliminary discussions with Ashoka and Canopus Foundation's ‘Solar for All’ (SfA) Initiative which has adopted as its goal the objective of bringing affordable solar power to 60 million off-grid households by 2020.