INSPIRING WOMEN TO EMBRACE SOLAR ENERGY BUSINESSES
In February 2019, we concluded one of the solar technician trainings under the still ongoing Let’s go solar campaign which is a consumer protection and awareness program funded by UNCDF and DFID. The training attracted three female participants out of the 21 total participants. During the mobilization process, it was a challenge to convince women to join the training program. At the end of the training, participants were able to size, design and install solar home systems of different sizes. Rachael (not real names) was one of the few women who participated in this training and is looking forward to being assessed by the Directorate of Industrial Training after which she will get her certificate. After the training she also has since been recruited as a technician in a reputable solar company. Her story is a clear example of how women should be encouraged to embrace energy related activities right from their childhoods. Our public relations officer reached out to her and in a telephone interview she shared with us her experience from the training and how it has impacted her life.
Participants being instructed during a recently concluded solar training
What is your inspiration for wanting to work with solar energy?
My inspiration is my dad. While I was growing, my father used to do all the electrical repairs at home but he is both a mechanic and technician. I would say that he is my biggest inspiration and maybe that is why I am following in his footsteps.
What was your experience participating in the training that was facilitated by CREEC under the Lets go solar campaign?
It was a wonderful experience. On the first day I almost ran away because I was seeing big men and then I fearfully thought that I was in a wrong place. I stayed but when I heard people introducing themselves and they talked of having 10 years’ experience and being managers of
established solar businesses I feared to introduce myself because I was just from school with no job. I however had a good experience because I got to interact with a diverse group of people that participated in the training and I learned a lot from their experiences. The participants were not mean with their knowledge but were both cooperative and helpful. The instructors from CREEC were very good to us and ensured that we are all at per during all training activities. This training also cleared up some misconceptions I had about solar energy businesses. My friends had discouraged me about joining the business because in their opinion all people do is walk around with products looking for clients but the training showed me that there are many options if one decided to join the solar business.
In what ways do you think you benefited from this particular training?
I made a lot of new friends of different caliber with whom we got and shared ideas that I will consider when I want to start up my own business. My knowledge regarding solar energy was broadened as I got hands on technical skills on solar PV systems.
What are some of the challenges you have experienced working with solar energy?
In my experience, the men I have worked with always think that because you’re a lady you are not capable of doing anything. While I was doing internship, we were only three ladies working with a group of men in the electrical department. Each week we were given assignments in groups and they ensured that each group had a lady. The challenge was that the workers would not bother to explain to us what they were doing and others would bluntly discourage me from joining the engineering field and instead join fields like education. Other men pursued me instead of helping me build my skills.
Any words of encouragement for the women who would wish to pursue a similar career as yours?
I would encourage them to pursue engineering. Nothing is impossible therefore they should follow their dreams. Some of the challenges I have faced are similar if not the same to the challenges faced by women in other sectors. Therefore it’s important that they believe in themselves and they can make it regardless of the discouragement.