In San Nicolas, in western Honduras, three friends, Alma, 42, Domitila, 58, and Rosa, 45, have come together to develop a new business. As mothers, they have always wanted to work to support their families, and be able to look after their children at the same time.
As Alma explains, "We have always had the dream of starting a business [and] being able to care for our children at home. But we did not have the opportunity to access credit since we did not meet the requirements set by banks and microfinance companies".
Supported through the Breaking the Barriers programme, and by our partner OCDIH*, they saw the opportunity to open a small shop to sell solar panels and photovoltaic equipment (a renewable energy technology, which transforms the energy from the sun into electricity).Having attended training days and workshops to gain skills, their business ‘EPAS’ has been open to the public since 2019.
Since the start of Breaking the Barriers in Honduras in 2018, 38 Women-led Sustainable Energy Enterprises (WLSEEs) have been created. They receive continuous technical assistance, support to develop business plans, and to date 31 of the enterprises have received access to funding.
The established businesses provide income for 98 women who sell eco-friendly cooking stoves, solar driers and solar panels, including additional accessories and services.
We have always had the dream of starting a business [and] being able to care for our children at home. But we did not have the opportunity to access credit since we did not meet the requirements set by banks and microfinance companies.
Alma, business owner
By February 2020, just before the arrival of Covid-19 in Honduras, these women had more than doubled their monthly income, and some were achieving the minimum wage through their sales.
A key element of the programme is to promote gender equality and strengthen women’s social status.
Women involved in the project report that there has been a shift in decision-making power at home. At the start of the project, 21% of women reported that either their husband or someone else in the household decided how the household income would be spent. At the start of 2020, 100% of women, who now all generate an income from their enterprises, report that they are involved in decision making about the household income.
The use of eco-friendly cooking stoves has increased from 52% to 86% among women in the project. As a result, the women report that they now use 50% less firewood relieving pressure on forests for fuel wood.
Sustainable energy finance
The project also works to improve the institutional environment for sustainable energy technologies and women’s role in this area.
At the start of the project there were no financing initiatives to support sustainable energy technology businesses, especially for women.
During the project, our partner established financial frameworks in collaboration with two local micro finance institutions to enable access to finance specifically for sustainable energy products. This has enabled the women to establish new sustainable energy enterprises.
About the programme
The Breaking the Barriers programme aims to increase rural women’s jobs and income in the sustainable energy sector, improve working and living conditions, promote gender equality, and strengthen women’s social status.
The EU funded programme, implemented and co-funded by Christian Aid, is supporting 197 women’s groups across Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Honduras and Malawi to establish their own sustainable energy businesses and promote gender equality.