Alicia Oberholzer: Using Storytelling to Share Solar Sister’s Impact

This summer I have the pleasure of interning at Solar Sister, a social enterprise with the vision of providing African women with economic opportunity, training, and support to distribute clean energy to last mile communities. Since its launch in 2010, Solar Sister has reached over 1.6 million inhabitants across Tanzania, Uganda, and Nigeria with solar lights and clean cookstoves. Additionally, they have empowered over 4,000 Africans to become entrepreneurs, 83% of which are women. You can read more about Solar Sister’s impact here.
Over the next five years, Solar Sister aims to support over 10,000 women entrepreneurs, which will increase energy access for over 10 million people in sub Saharan Africa. By scaling their model, Solar Sister is directly contributing to achieving several UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). By increasing women’s economic opportunity, Solar Sister is increasing gender equality (SDG 5) and poverty alleviation (SDG 1). By distributing affordable clean energy technologies to last mile communities, Solar Sister is working towards Affordable and Clean Energy for all (SDG 7). The positive impacts of increased energy access and economic development ripple down to contribute to several of the other SDGs, such as: Good Health and Well-Being (SDG 3), Quality Education (SDG 4), Decent Work and Economic Growth (SDG 8), Reduced Inequalities (SDG 10), and Climate Action (SDG 13).
At Solar Sister, I’m being mentored by the creative Communications Director, Fid Thompson. Coming from a strictly scientific background, I’ve always felt that I somewhat lack skills requiring a lot of creativity. Given this, one of my goals for the summer is to learn how to use storytelling to share Solar Sister’s impact. We are working hard to increase Solar Sister’s social media reach in hopes of increasing their donor base by doing so. This involves a lot of outreach to well-known influencers in the energy access realm. Furthermore, I’m learning how to use Salesforce to analyze sales data and quantify Solar Sister’s global impact. The hope is to write and publish a story about why and how Solar Sister has been successful in reaching last mile communities with clean energy solutions.
I’m currently learning so much about the multi-faceted work that goes into running an organization that has successfully reached last mile communities, from story telling to training entrepreneurs. Everyone who I’ve met on the Solar Team comes from a fascinatingly unique background but shares the same passion of solving the energy access crisis. Working alongside a team of driven and talented women has reassured me that I’m on the right path!
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