wPOWER Global Partnership Forum 2015 centre stages the role of women entrepreneurs in promoting ‘last mile’ clean energy solutions

Arpendu Ganguly | April 21st, 2015, 11:53 am

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)-financed and Swayam Shikshan Prayog(SSP)-implemented Partnership on Women’s Entrepreneurship in Renewables(wPOWER) has successfully trained over 1000 rural women in entrepreneurship, marketing, sales and servicing of the clean energy products. The women entrepreneurs have reached over 200,000 households in the underserved districts of Maharashtra and Bihar, India.

In order to showcase the emerging role of women entrepreneurs, trained under the wPOWER program,  in providing enhanced awareness and access to clean energy solutions, wPOWER Global Partnership Forum 2015 was recently held at the Indian Habitat Centre, New Delhi, India  on April 16th -17th, 2015.

The forum jointly organized by USAID and SSP, brought together key representatives from international institutions, government, private sector and more importantly the grass root clean women entrepreneurs known as Sakhis from Maharashtra and Bihar to share their experiences and insights.

Key highlights: Day 1(April 16th 2015)

Day 1 witnessed dialogue, deliberations, sharing of experiences and perspectives from high level experts ranging from policy makers, corporates to grass root clean energy women entrepreneurs.

Critical role of women in the clean energy value chain

In the opening plenary of the forum, Ms. Varsha Joshi, Joint Secretory, MNRE, GOI gave the keynote address highlighting the critical role that can be played by women in the clean energy value chain and expressed her interest on behalf of the Government of India in supporting and scaling up such innovative initiatives.

Ms. Varsha Joshi, IAS, delivering the key note address


Launch of the wPOWER: Connecting the dots, resource guide

The opening plenary ended with the launch of ‘wPOWER: Connecting the dots’, a knowledge product highlighting the interactive and key elements of the wPOWER India program, documented by Re-emerging World team.

Launch of 'wPOWER:Connecting the dots,a resource guide''


The wPOWER India journey

The opening session started with Apurva Chaturvedi, Clean Energy Specialist, USAID India and Prema Gopalan, Executive Director, SSP sharing their insights on the wPOWER journey that has led to the building of a women clean energy entrepreneurship network, enhancement of the clean energy awareness, last mile access to underserved rural districts and creation of enabling clean energy partnership ecosystem through a unique market based approach.

Apurva Chaturvedi, clean energy specialist, USAID India driving the panel session


Energize the ecosystem for entrepreneurs

Panellists from diverse organizational backgrounds including World Bank, ENERGIA, Re-emerging World, Frontier Markets and CLEAN tried to underline the key barriers and enablers for energizing the entrepreneurship ecosystem.

Energizing the ecosystem session


Need vs Want…Bridging the Aspiration Gap

The session brought together a technology developer, a social entrepreneur, a corporate and a Sakhi to share their experiences on distinct last mile challenges in reaching the rural consumers and how they were able to pilot and scale up their mode of operation.

Sakhi sharing her insights


Voices from the field

The day ended with the grass root women entrepreneurs from both India and Africa sharing their entrepreneurship experiences and insights from field which left the audience mesmerized.

Key highlights: Day 2(April 17th 2015)

The second day of the forum started with a key note address from the Honourable Minister of State of External Affairs and Ex-Army Chief V.K. Singh who highlighted that the investment on capacity building of women entrepreneurs is bound to fetch highest social and economic returns at both the micro and macro level.

Honourable Minister of State of External Affairs, Gen.(Retd.)  V.K.Singh addressing the session

Financing the 3E’s – End user, Enterprise and Ecosystem

The session witnessed a healthy dialogue not only between the panellists and the moderator but also between the African and Indian participants and the panellists. While it was agreed that clean energy financing solutions is a necessity, the real innovation was about designing the financing scheme that readily clicks in the ecosystem.

Fianancing the 3E's session

Forging partnerships: technology developers, private sector and women entrepreneurs

The forum provided the right platform where representatives of diverse but important actors including technology developers, private sector and women entrepreneurs discussed how to collaborate and engage with the last mile networks.

Avik Roy, MD, Re-emerging World, moderating the session

Leveraging women’s leadership and networks for sustainable development

The final session brought both national and international representatives of women’s movement to highlight and share their insights on the potential role of women in inclusive and sustainable development.

Closing Plenary

The closing plenary session saw the high level representatives from Government of India, USAID India, UNDP India agreeing unanimously on the importance of such initiatives and the need to replicate and scale them up.

Closing Plenary