On Wednesday, the USADF announced in collaboration with its partner, the new 2017 Off-Grid Energy Challenge targeted toward African women-owned and managed energy enterprises and innovations.
According to the agency, the new challenge forms part of US President Barack Obama’s Power Africa’s Beyond the Grid initiative, which is aimed at driving private investment in off-grid and small scale renewable energy solutions.
USADF: identifying gaps
The US federal government organisation further explained that this new challenge highlights the need to support technologies advanced by female African entrepreneurs who have limited access to finance in many African countries.
USADF President and CEO C.D. Glin commented: “African women remain the cornerstone of the African family and community.
“They are leading their communities yet suffer the brunt of energy poverty. Ingenuity and innovation will be unleashed with these seed capital awards and we can’t wait to see the applications roll in.”
The agency also quoted statistics, which state that on a global scale, less than 25% of the renewable energy workforce is women, a rate which is said to be even lower in Africa.
This newly launched initiative is said to be targeting the next generation of women entrepreneurs to provide financing and technical assistance for off-grid lighting solutions.
Joyce Gema, a winner in the 2014 Off-Grid Energy Challenge, commented: “Women entrepreneurs have been disadvantaged for a long time as they do not have access to credit through the formal banking system, and also lack skills to grow their businesses.”
Meanwhile, Jay Ireland, President and CEO of GE Africa, noted: “I continue to be excited about the incredible innovation and entrepreneurship that is happening across the continent. GE has a rich history in Africa and we are committed to continue investing on the continent.”
“We are very pleased to be a part of this Challenge to help identify and accelerate projects that will help African entrepreneurs to compete in the global economy,”Ireland stated.
Featured image: CEB