Joyce Kibet, Founder of Business Advantage presented her enterprise at the 2017 Women in Energy Awards and Conference. With a background in international business, she is able to bring businesses up to the point where they can begin attracting social impact investors.
At the prototyping stage of new a venture she strongly cautions against investor involvement where the business owner has low competence and high commitment. Her professional advice is to first seek the counsel on a lawyer.
In addition to social impact investors, Mrs. Kibet is a strong proponent of angel investors. She champions that angel investors should receive a plan for investment and repayment terms. In the event of a business failure, Mrs. Kibet proposes that business owners should quantify their losses to get a better understanding of their successes and the challenges that need new approaches.KEEP READING
Trained as an electrical engineer, Beatrice Muthoni, is a Renewable Energy Consultant. She is also the 2016 Women in Energy Awards Professional Category winner. Currently, she is working on small hydro energy projects for Kenya Tea Development Authority KTDA. At the 2017 Women in Energy Awards and Conference she talked about selling your idea, having been part of the team that convinced an agricultural firm to transition into the power generation business to feed-in energy to the tea factories.
There are ways for women to bolster their position when building consensus in a male-dominated industry, such as the energy sector. They are:
Sylvester Okumu, Director General of Lamu Port Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport LAPSSET explained to the 2017 Women in Energy Awards and Conference participants that LAPSSET is a 2,000 km railroad linking port-to-port corridors in Africa. The preliminary engineering designs for the railway have been completed. LAPSSET is funded by Bilateral Agreements and Memorandum of Understanding MOUs.
Additional aspects of the LAPSSET project include:
The Port of Lamu is the second strategic port in Kenya and largest port on the east coast of Africa. It has a capacity depth of 18m compared to 12m-15m in Mombasa. It is an off shore port with 32 berth ports made of reclaimed land. The Port of Lamu is funded by the Government of Kenya and uses Kenyan labour.
For lack of capacity, the largest cargo ships cannot port in Mombasa. Those ships generally go to the Middle East where the bulk cargo is broken up and returned to the east African ports in medium ships. With the Port of Lamu, the largest cargo ships can be broken in Kenya, eliminating costs associated with crossing the Suez Canal. The Port of Lamu is intertwined with the largest special economic zone, larger than Nairobi. This will enable Kenya to build the largest industrial base not only in Kenya but in the world. The new platform will attract business and global logistics for manufacturers.
The role of women and youth in LAPSSET project adds value for the country. Their participation and development on the LAPSSET project is an indicator that the Kenyan economy is being optimized. Lamu County has been awarded 1,000 scholarships over 10 years to supply the project with local engineers.KEEP READING
Women are capable: There are about 20 heads of state who are women. In Kenya, the number of County Governors who are women is on the rise. A growing number of business leaders of Fortune 500 companies are women. Fred Gituku, Human Resources Manager at Vivo Energy, shared these statistics with the participants of the 2017 Women in Energy Awards and Conference to share a deeply held belief that women are capable of rising to the top.
A study in the US showed that every 30% of women in an organization may represent up to 15% profitability. Diversity is useful because dynamics changes when women are around. Empirical data shows that the different ways in which women approach risk, demonstrate empathy among many other attributes can have a positive impact to the organization.
Women face barriers: Women face discrimination and the ‘kitchen syndrome’ where it is the cultural norm for women to prepare food. What do our cultural norms say about women? To combat gender discrimination, we must step down from statistics to self. We need to ask, ‘How would I feel if it was my mother or daughter who was denied the position when she had merit?’
Women can rise: Merit, ideas and purpose do not have gender. Collaboration will produce more fruit than fighting. Share your story because it can inspire others. Have a mentor. Read. Use your networks to build the connections and relationships that will help you in the future. Get a professional coach, who can raise your self-awareness and help you recognize how you interact with your surroundings.
There are some who have reservations about legislating merit, as mandated by the Constitution of 2010. This is by no means an attempt to further discriminate against women. As a retired professional athlete who competed for Kenya, Mr. Gituku knows in international games organizers never look for regional representation. The competition is by always merit. However, if we must legislate merit, we must avoid tokenism. A board member who barely speaks will give the impression of being a token leading the rest to question his or her ability which detracts from merit. Women should be knowledgeable that people may see value and merit and understand that only an opportunity has been provided.KEEP READING
Boni Chileshe is the Chief Executive of AECOM, a global engineering firm of 85,000 engineers in infrastructure and energy, namely nuclear, oil & gas, LPG, solar, power generation in hydro, geothermal and other renewables. He is a trained mechanical engineer and lecturer. Mr. Chileshe is a champion of women empowerment. He also supports other disadvantaged groups like black students in the UK, sponsoring some to become graduate engineers.
Woman + Energy + Opportunity + Direction (support) = infinite, endless possibilities.
Communities will reap far greater benefits by investing in women and men, than when they invest solely in men. Communities that allow women to take bigger roles in society are more advanced.
A job is getting paid to fulfil a task. A career is an occupation with direction and purpose leading to self-enhancement and self-actualization. A career begins with a job. Careers are made and progressive.
To move forward, one must have hope. However, hope is not a strategy. Hope must be followed up with a plan. A plan is useless unless until it is acted upon. Everyone needs people to support them. Each person needs mentors and a network, to help and support them attain their hopes and plans.
Take opportunities and be fearless. Do not be afraid to take an opportunity.
Smart goals do not begin with a wish list. They begin by asking: What are the 1-3 things that will make me more effective in my current role? One needs to understand (1) how will he/she become more effective, (2) by what means will the effectiveness be measured, and (3) by whom—an accountability partner needs to be involved, (4) are the goals aligned with personal and business objectives (should be yes to both), and lastly (5) goals need start and end times as well as regular review to measure progress. The things that can make one more effective in their current role include the right experience, training that is applied, effective communication (engage & articulate), delegating and delivering efficiently.
Learn to celebrate success.
At the 2nd Women in Energy Awards and Conference, AECOM Chief Executive Boni Chileshe strongly recommended engineering students to ensure their studies include nanotechnology. Within the circles of the British Nuclear Institute and the British Nano Society, it is believed in the future, we will transmit energy without power lines, in the same way we communicate via Bluetooth. Eng. Chileshe also advised students to take motivation from the fact that they are the future and will revamp the biggest growth market in the world, the energy sector.
The difference between the woman who has great potential and ability and does not succeed and the one who advances her career past her peers, beyond knowing their jobs well, is assertiveness. In many cases the former did not speak up, even when she was right.
The inability to assert oneself will hold back a brilliant woman and impede her career advancement. Being assertive does not equate to being abrasive. Mr. Chileshe advises women to speak up being mindful not to put others down. A women can successfully address a challenge she sees by asking, “Have you considered xyz?”
Mr. Chileshe’s advice to women is to put their hand up and speak up to their ability to complete the task in consideration. Generally, women reads more than their male counterparts. However, a woman’s fear that she will be perceived as being hysterical or moody can be interpreted as an inability to articulate a message. Another obstacle that holds back women and people of colour is accepting the cultural inheritance—failing to challenge job advertisements which are psychologically biased toward men, because they are generally authored by men.
At appraisals, the evaluation team may subconsciously choose to protect a woman from her male-dominated work environment rather than support her. In such situations, women can be each other’s advocates, especially when serving on promotion evaluation panels. Women can propel each other to avoid sticky floors and glass ceilings. Lastly, working mothers and primary care givers must be their own advocates for proper work-life balance.
Women have far reaching emotional intelligence and empathy. On a board, this is seen in the way they drive the business, define success and communicate how policies are articulated. In an all-male board, things are done quickly. However, a board with gender diversity will more keenly consider the implications on its decisions. The lack of women in an organization in any industry, and not specifically in C-level suites, means a lack of the different ways of thinking which women bring to a sector in terms of aligning policies, organization, structure and benefits sharing.
Measure emissions per dayKEEP READING
Energia is the international network on gender and sustainable energy based at The Hague in the Netherlands working on gender and energy research for policy influencing. Energia was founded by women in 1996 who were working on gender and energy work in developing countries. The vision at Energia continues to be that women and men have equal and equitable access to and control of sustainable energy services as essential human rights. Information regarding Energia was presented at the 2017 Women in Energy Awards and Conference by Dr. Mumbi Machera of the Technical Advisory Group of the Energia Gender and Energy Research Programme.
Given that 2.5 billion people worldwide do not have access to modern energy for daily life, Energia is committed to scaling up the delivery of energy services and products. The research company will meet its goals by strengthening women-led enterprises, advocating for gender mainstreaming in energy policy and creating the evidence base for incorporating a gender lens through its practices and research.
Currently, Energia networks and brings together 31 organizations from 18 African and Asian countries, inclusive of Kenya. Researchers from around the world are collaborating in their efforts in seven distinct research areas. Energia is guided by the following policies: empowerment and equality, inclusiveness and equality in partnership, respect for diversity, flexibility and unity, contextualization of interventions, innovation in thinking and balanced approach to themes and activities.
The Gender and Energy Research Programme will invite national, international, public and private stakeholders in mid to late 2019 to share in a forum on the programs findings. The program funded by UK Department for International Development has been ongoing since 2015. The goal is to find evidence-based research for improving the effectiveness of energy investments and understanding women needs for modern energy services through empirical research.KEEP READING
By training, Hellen Odegi is a biochemist. Four years ago she transitioned into the energy sector founding Skylon Global Company, an energy company that installs solar roofs, biogas digesters and electrical fittings. In the future, Hellen Odegi anticipates working in power generation. She is also the 2016 Women in Energy Award winner of the Community Leadership Award.
Ms. Odegi advised the participants at the 2017 Women in Energy Awards and Conference that the energy sector is a large value chain where women can plug in at any point. While there are many large and mega projects that require huge capital investment, there are numerous simpler businesses where women can make contributions. For example, women can become service providers, installing ready-made solar systems, taking advantage of manufacturer’s warranties and guarantees for energy devices and technologies.
She added this service model can be extended to contracting professionals to provide solutions for energy parastatals, electrical installation, engineering services, construction, etc. In such businesses, women would find new business to contract registered to professionals to do actual work. All that is required is creativity and networking with seasoned veterans to help solve complex systems and problems.KEEP READING
As our society has become increasingly technology dependent, energy has become a critical commodity for the way we work and play. One way Kenya can generate more power is by installing roofing tiles integrated with solar cells which are manufactured by Strauss Energy. Charity Wanjiku, Co-Founder and Chief Operations Officer at Strauss Energy presented the two-in-one roofing tiles at the 2017 Women in Energy Awards and Conference. In homes, the power generating roofing tiles can generate up to 2.5 times the power required for lighting, cooking, powering digital technology such as cell phones and laptops, among many other uses.
While there are models that supply the roofing tiles with the built-in solar cells at the grassroots level, the Strauss Energy roofing tiles are best implemented during real estate development and construction. To increase the uptake of solar roofing, Strauss Energy is undertaking projects to reduce the cost of solar energy storage and transitioning from chemical batteries to more environmentally friendly options and renewable resources.
The integrated solar cell roofing technology can allow Kenya to reduce the energy gap by sharing excess power generated with neighbors. For additional value, the excess energy can be sold to the grid, following the implementation of the Net Metering Policy by the Ministry of Energy. With the additional energy, Kenya can avail more energy for manufacturing and industries at lower rates.KEEP READING
Patrick Kimathi, Co-Founder of Skynotch Energy Africa, is taking advantage of the energy sector policies to harness energy for grid and off-gird projects. Currently, Skynotch Energy Africa has a 7.8 MW small hydro power project in Meru valued at $18.6 million in capital investment.
Skynotch Energy Africa partnered with the community by forming a public company of 1,200 households with the shareholders in a special purpose vehicle. In the partnership, there is shared ownership and management of the hydro power project. The community is empowered to make decisions as the custodians of the resources. Skynotch Energy Africa undertook the regulatory process and acquired investment for the project. The investment in the community’s social equity is converted into money in the form of revenue sharing by selling the excess energy back to the grid through the feed-in-tariff program.
Mr. Kimathi is confident that such a project investment in energy is not restricted to persons of high net worth. Energy projects by Skynotch Energy Africa that can be replicated at the county level by women and community groups. Over time, these projects will have shorter turnaround times to generate revenue.
Public funding is directed into community development and private sector projects. Community development funds are geared to supporting the marginalized of society. Policy makers and for-profit firms can organize communities at the county level to create enterprise development and secure funding for viable business opportunities.
Skynotch Energy Africa on its own could not raise the funds to develop an energy project. Donor funds are phasing out grants in favour of output based funding, where funding is provided only after attaining agreed upon milestones. However, understanding there are donors who will fund renewable energy projects that benefit the community. On this knowledge, Skynotch Energy Africa built rapport with a community based organization CBO representing 1,200 households. Together they built capacity and set up an energy project. The CBO received the initial funding, which under the guidance of Skynotch Energy Africa, was able to complete a feasibility study to prove the viability of a small hydro power project. The feasibility study showed social impact investors that the project was worthwhile. They injected $18.6 million into the project because it made direct impact to the CBO households with revenue sharing.