Gilda Monjane is the founder and director of Lojas de Energias, an initiative that empowers women clean energy entrepreneurs living in off-grid areas of Mozambique.
In 2011, she set up her first energy shop that sold solar lamp kits and offered charging services for mobile phones and solar lamps. According to the World Energy Outlook 2019, 90% of the additional electricity connections needed to meet the SDG 7 on affordable and clean energy, will come from renewables.
- What inspired you to work in the energy access sector?
I spent my childhood in rural off-grid areas in Mozambique and experienced the gravity of living without electricity. My mother used firewood for cooking in a traditional house that had one door and no windows.
In 2011, I enrolled for my graduate studies at Eduardo Mondlane University and my thesis topic was: The Role of Renewable Energy in Promoting Sustainable Development and Women Economic Empowerment: Case Study of Two Rural Pilot Communities.
My research findings showed that women were not included as part of the solution to access clean energy. Women lacked the required knowledge and technical skills on renewables such as solar systems. The local solar technicians were predominately men and would often migrate to neighboring South Africa and Swaziland for better jobs. I decided to learn how to repair and fix solar systems and train women on solar lamp systems.
I also set up ‘energy kiosks’, which are small shops where people charge their mobile phones and buy rechargeable solar lamps. The light from the solar lamps is brighter and lasts for 10 days, unlike kerosene lamps which last for 5 days.
|2. What are the key achievements of your organization
My organization Lojas de Energias has trained more that 500 people and currently mentoring 160 energy entrepreneurs who are based in rural off-grid areas, with support from UNEP and other partners. So far, we have sold more than 30,000 Solar Systems and impacted thousands of households.
Lojas de Energias has managed to scale up from selling simple solar lamps to irrigation systems with the goal of helping shift from fossil fuel for irrigation needs.
Farmers who use our irrigation kits have lowered their production costs which included the use of 20 liters of fuel per day for irrigation. We have trained technicians on solar water pumping and irrigation systems.
- What are the challenges you’ve faced in your line of work?
It was difficult to get financing to start my enterprise. For instance, when I applied for a loan from my bank, they requested a notice from my husband as a requirement to be issued with the loan. In addition, the bank wanted proof of full-time employment yet I was a consultant and did not have a monthly salary.
But, gladly, two German companies agreed to supply me with solar lamps on credit and offered me a flexible payment plan.
- What’s your message as we commemorate International Women’s Month?
Renewable energy is the main solution for energy access challenges for both on-grid and off-grid areas. To have a good energy transition, it needs to be just and inclusive.