Robisha Tamiru, 31, (right) and Selamawit Eyob, 25, run the small Berhan solar shop together in Konso town, southern Ethiopia. 'Berhan' in Amharic means light. Their growing business sells solar lighting and improved cook stoves, which require less firewood to heat. Together they are helping to tackle climate change in their region through raising awareness about the challenges of deforestation and supporting their customers to move towards more sustainable solutions.
Through their demonstrations and taking products into the community, Robisha and Selamawit are successfully changing peoples’ opinions about using renewable energy products. Previously the market was saturated by illegally imported goods that did not last long and so their customers were doubtful. But now Robisha and Selamawit struggle to meet demand.
Robisha too is supporting his family with his profits from the shop, approximately £450 to date, through helping his brother to start a shoe shop, providing for his mother, and funding his brother and sister through further education.
Starting the business is not without its challenges, working as a team, and creating a market has taken time. Access to sustainable energy products to sell still remains an issue at times, but the shift in their customers’ desire for their products is encouraging.
Through our EU funded Breaking the Barriers programme, we are supporting women and men to create and own Women’s Led Sustainable Energy Enterprises in some of the poorest and remote off-grid communities.
These groups receive training in sustainable energy products and technologies, business skills and can access finance through savings and loans groups.
In Ethiopia, in South Omo and Konso we are supporting 692 women and 3 men to establish 58 businesses producing and selling improved cook stoves and solar energy products.