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This Planet is a series of short video stories that draw on the best new videos, awesome graphics, and surprising facts about climate, energy and innovation.

Filming Solar Entrepreneurs

This Planet Chronicle

Filming Solar Entrepreneurs

Evelyn Messinger

It began with a charming video about a likable young woman in Rwanda who works for the NGO Solar Sister, selling solar lamps to her neighbors. Their idea is that women like Chantal will aid rural development, get her neighbors off expensive and unhealthy kerosene, and spend her earnings to feed and educate her children. So everyone wins.

There are many reasons to help women in the developing world. As an employee of Solar Sister says in This Planet’s A Livelihood From Sunshine episode, “If energy poverty was a person, that person would be a woman.”

Aid projects aimed at women range from The Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network, which engages women worldwide to take action on climate change, to the U.N. sponsored Sustainable Energy For All, which targets women in its support for governments and businesses making the transition to sustainable energy. And the U.N.'s Climate Heroes documentary, narrated by actor Ian Somerhalder, also focuses on women and innovation and is definitely worth a watch.

 

But we were floored to find the range of developing-country solar projects that have already received recognition from Great Britain’s famous Ashden Award. It would be difficult to overestimate the impact of Ashden on worthy projects worldwide in terms of the publicity, expert support and the introductions to investors they receive. And those of us in the developed world know about great projects from China to India to Ethiopia thanks to Ashden.  Here is a short video about one of this year’s Ashden winners, Off Grid Electric of Tanzania, which provides solar to rural villagers to power mobile phones:


Ashden’s portraits of its 2014 winners were created by TV Trust for the Environment. Earlier years have featured films by the greatest British environmental film companies, such as Rockhopper TV. So the other angle of this story is – great films! The creators of the Solar Sister video that got us started is the charitable media organization and creator of award-winning photos, Ripple Effect Images (whose tagline is “help a woman, help the planet”). So here’s the Solar Sister video for your enjoyment:

Solar Sister eradicates energy poverty by empowering women in rural Africa to become entrepreneurs for solar lanterns, bringing light, hope and opportunity to remote communities.

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