In a bid to help eradicate rural energy poverty in Malawi, Flame Tree Initiative (FTI) conducted a Development Entrepreneurship Lab (DELab) to train dynamic entrepreneurs who have solutions to off-grid energy poverty in their communities.
The intent of the DELab, held from May through August 2020, was to increase the capacity of social entrepreneurs to expand the use of off-grid, alternative energy solutions. FTI believes that development-driven social entrepreneurship is a key strategy to solve the plague of energy poverty.
According to Flame Tree Initiative Program Manager Chifuniro Kandaya, “the workshop attracted 14 participants across the country who are energy producers, and they are at idealistic level.”
Kandaya added that “the training focused on building the capacity of different off-grid, energy- related ventures like production of biomass gas, solar min-grids, mini-hydro systems and production of briquettes for cooking.”
To enhance entrepreneur professional capacities, “the participants were also equipped with skills on how they can initiate innovations to increase their efforts and cause social impact in their communities.”
Presently, about 12 percent of the population is connected to the national power grid, with a meagre four percent of the rural households electrified. Sadly, nine out of 10 Malawians are exposed to unclean lighting and cooking energy sources, exposure that risks their health and safety.
Flame Tree Initiative boosts entrepreneur effectiveness by giving them the tools, and mentoring, they need to be financially successful while also impacting their off-grid communities. Providing access to various types of energy can be transformational for a community, and that is the intent of these “development entrepreneurs”.
As Kandaya said, “Flame Tree Initiative has a goal to ensure that ordinary rural citizens have access to electricity and encourage them to use productive renewable energy sources on daily basis.”
FTI’s training and advocacy harmonize with Malawi’s aspirations to create clean and sustainable energy for all by 2030 (UN Sustainable Development Goal #7). Energy poverty is a major problems confronting Malawi, limiting its socio-economic and industrial development, but it is also a solvable problem.