Powering Women’s Entrepreneurship

SELF and local partner, the Rape Hurts Foundation (RHF), have launched a project aimed at expanding entrepreneurship opportunities for women in Bukyerimba, Uganda.

Past work between SELF and RHF has focused on powering safer spaces for local women and expanding resources for survivors of sexual assault. But to move beyond a state of surviving to a life of thriving, these women also need a way to earn income and achieve financial independence.

The Solution

To bring these opportunities closer, SELF procured five commercial-scale Lytefire solar ovens. These ovens draw directly on energy from the sun to reach temperatures as high as 300°C / 572°F. Capable of baking, roasting, dehydrating, and cooking large quantities of food, these systems offer a reliable solution to preparing a variety of goods.

The technology is much cleaner than traditional cooking fuels, such as wood and coal, which can be hazardous to the environment and human health. Having these cookers available also means more time to focus on growing their business rather than spending hours a day gathering fuel.

The cookers arrived at the RHF site in November of 2022. A series of trainings were held to equip the women with baking knowledge and business skills, such as accounting and warehousing. Technical trainings were also held, including maintenance and troubleshooting, to ensure these systems will serve the community for years to come.

The Results

Equipped with new skills, resources, and access to the solar ovens, program participants have begun their entrepreneurship journeys, with 90% running their own business or otherwise employed within the first two months. Below are a few of their stories.

Mutesi Alima is a 20-year-old resident of Kitovu Village and is a survivor of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). She received some formal schooling as a child but stopped when her family’s funds ran out. Through the solar baking program, Alima discovered new skills that have allowed her to become financially independent. She set up a business in the city of Jinja, where she sells a variety of solar-baked goods, including cakes, cookies, and buns. With the money she’s saving, she hopes to one day buy an oven of her own and empower others through employment.

Naigaga Rashida is a 25-year-old single mother residing in Butiki. Baking has long been a passion of hers, but launching a business felt like nothing more than a dream. That changed when she joined the solar bakery trainings, where she expanded her baking knowledge and developed the business skills she long sought. She has since opened her own bakery where she supplies goods to local shops. Rashida generates enough money to pay school fees for her child, feed her family, care for her parents, and save without difficulty.

Mukhoda Specioza, a 23-year-old resident of Kamuli, came to RHF after being assaulted by four armed robbers in her home. She received post-exposure prophylaxis, emergency contraceptives, and psycho-socio support, and after her recovery, she enrolled in the baking program. Once she completed the training, Specioza was retained by the RHF-Sanyu Bakery in Kamuli, where she earns regular income. This program has provided her an invaluable sense of stability as she continues to heal.

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SELF is a global leader in the fight against energy poverty. Since 1990, we’ve pioneered unique applications for solar energy, powering progress on food security, health care, education, gender equity, and more. 

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