ElleSolaire is the first women-inspired, women-led solar social enterprise in West Africa. We bridge the gap between international manufacturers of breakthrough solar technologies and those who most desperately need their products in remote off-grid communities in West Africa.
ElleSolaire is the Senengal-based social entreprise arm of the Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative Ltd (WEI). The WEI is a UK non-profit organisation whose mission is to learn about, serve and enable change for women entrepreneurs in Africa and the Middle East. The WEI publishes leading research based on its field activities, adopting an action research based approach.
200 million people in West Africa alone live ‘beyond the electricity grid’. Families in these rural communities must rely on expensive, dangerous and time-consuming alternative energy sources. Everyone suffers but energy poverty affects women and girls the most.
Women and girls carry the responsibility for domestic work and sourcing combustible energy materials for cooking. Laborious manual activity means very long days, typically stretching from 5am until midnight. Tens of hours per week are spent walking long distances looking for firewood for cooking. Women and children are the most exposed to the toxic, fumes from open-fire cooking. Meanwhile children cannot study after sundown, unless by the poor light of expensive battery torchlights or toxic hazardous kerosene lamps.
Energy poverty is a vicious cycle. Women and girls are especially affected in that their time is not their own to pursue opportunities that may lift them out of poverty. In Senegal, just 27% of girls enrol in secondary education. Energy poverty is a contributing factor as women must enlist the help of their daughters in the domestic work who drop out from school early. Economic opportunities are then very limited with women occupying just 11% of the non-agricultural workforce.
Simple, affordable solar products made available via a vibrant women-centred network of solar entrepreneurs is a win-win: women empowered to solve problems that affect women.
Entrepreneurship offers a unique opportunity for women to empower themselves both economically and socially, on their own terms. They define their own rules, measure their own success, grow in confidence and earn trust and respect from those around them. Entrepreneurship that involves solving critical energy problems with breakthrough technological solutions earns a woman a very unique place at the heart of her community. ElleSolaire selects, trains, recruits and supports women entrepreneurs, helping them and their businesses to flourish and thrive.
ElleSolaire entrepreneurs start by supplying simple solutions at the bottom of the ‘energy-ladder’ such as solar lanterns and solar home systems with mobile phone charging capability. Solar lighting is simple, clean, safe and affordable. It enables children to study after dark, women to carry out their domestic work in safety and families to stay connected by mobile phone. In time, ElleSolaire entrepreneurs graduate to distribute a portfolio of solutions from clean-cook stoves to more powerful solar systems capable of moving their communities up the energy ladder.
Kelly Nwachuku Lavelle
Founder & Executive Director …
Lorentz Chidue Nwachuku
Co-founder & Finance Lead …
Co-founder, Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative …
Senior Advisor & Representative, Senegal …
Communications Lead …
Jeanne Madeleine Thiaw
Woman Entrepreneur Field Coordinator
Technical & Administration Coordinator
Regional Field Agent
Logistics and Inventory Agent
Presidente d’Honneur, Senegal
Honorary Founding Member
– Hend Alsheikh
– Monarh Alomair
– Joaher Aldeghaither
– Gomash Aldugaither
– Monera Alnahedh
– Mohammed Almojel