Daily CSR
Daily CSR

Daily CSR
Daily news about corporate social responsibility, ethics and sustainability

Empowering Women & Fighting Poverty: Solar Sister & Trickle Up's Impactful Initiatives


International Women’s Day, observed globally on March 8, marks a significant moment to celebrate women's achievements and advocate for gender equality. This year, the theme "Inspire Inclusion" resonates deeply with Cisco's commitment to fostering an inclusive future for all through our Social Impact partnerships. We are proud to announce that we have surpassed our ambitious goal of positively impacting one billion people by 2025. 

As a technology company, Cisco recognizes the transformative power of technology in bridging gaps and fostering connectivity. Through our partnerships with non-profit organizations, we actively support the development and implementation of tech-enabled solutions aimed at creating positive social change. Our assistance extends beyond financial support; we also provide technological resources and expertise to enable our partners to deliver their programs effectively and securely. 

Among our esteemed partners are Living Goods, One Acre Fund, Solar Sister, and Trickle Up, who have played instrumental roles in helping us achieve our milestone. These organizations have been pivotal in providing equitable access to knowledge, skills, and resources, particularly for women, empowering them to achieve independence, resilience, and economic security. 

Living Goods, for instance, embodies this commitment through its community health worker (CHW) program. Miriam Mbithe, a dedicated CHW, highlights the transformative impact of empowering women with access to healthcare, education, and economic opportunities. By leveraging digital empowerment, Living Goods has enabled over 11,400 CHWs across Burkina Faso, Kenya, and Uganda to deliver life-saving care to millions annually. Their efforts have significantly reduced child mortality and improved maternal health outcomes, demonstrating the profound ripple effects of empowering women within communities.

Living Goods ensures that community health workers (CHWs) are equipped with essential digital tools, training, medication, supervision, and fair compensation to effectively save lives on a large scale. They also collaborate with governments to establish sustainable healthcare delivery systems. Investing in CHWs not only enhances health outcomes but also empowers these predominantly female workers to contribute significantly to their households, local economies, and overall community development. 

With support from Cisco over recent years, Living Goods has enhanced its digital infrastructure to improve the quality and reach of community health services. Cisco has provided assistance for various initiatives, including upgrading their mobile technology platform, establishing a data warehouse, developing predictive algorithms to target interventions for vulnerable families, implementing performance management systems, and ensuring interoperability with government healthcare systems. Currently, Cisco is aiding Living Goods in strengthening their data infrastructure and tools, transitioning to a more efficient self-service data stack, and enhancing their capacity to derive insights from data. 

To contribute:

  • You can support community health workers in saving lives and enhancing livelihoods by making a tax-deductible donation.
  • Stay updated on Living Goods' initiatives by following them on social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook.

Presently, One Acre Fund stands as the foremost organization globally in serving African smallholder farmers. Notably, they meticulously tailor their core program to ensure accessibility for women, who constitute more than two-thirds of the farmers they assist: 

  • To embed gender sensitivity into all client interactions and mitigate inherent bias, half of their field staff are women.
  • Overcoming cultural barriers that may hinder women's participation in employment and financial decision-making, they typically deliver loans and training to farmer groups rather than individuals, fostering positive, community-centric relationships.
  • Recognizing women's lower average literacy rates, their trainings emphasize easy-to-understand hands-on demonstrations and oral and pictorial-based lessons, which are also integral to expanding digital training offerings.
  • Acknowledging the significant time constraints rural women face, the primary focus of their program revolves around improving farm yields and incomes through time and labor-saving tools, farming methods, and crops. Consequently, women consistently achieve transformative productivity and income gains akin to male farmers in the program, countering prevalent disparities across the region. 

To contribute:

  • Invest in small-scale farms in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Explore One Acre Fund's partnership with Cisco on the Tupande farmer app in this blog post. 

Solar Sister celebrates the resilience of its Solar Sister Entrepreneurs and the numerous underserved communities they impact across Africa on Women's International Day. By fostering inclusivity and providing opportunities, Solar Sister unlocks the potential of women worldwide to shape a brighter future. Solar Sister firmly believes that energy access serves as a vital catalyst for women's economic empowerment. 

In sub-Saharan Africa, the communities where Solar Sister operates endure profound gender equity disparities alongside some of the lowest global electrification rates, compounded by the effects of climate change. By connecting women in these last-mile communities through Solar Sister's community-driven model, they become the essential infrastructure for electrifying communities overlooked by top-down energy investments.

Solar Sister provides business coaching, mentorship, product pipelines, warranty support, and access to local Sisterhood groups, empowering women to build businesses and provide their communities with affordable, clean energy. This not only mitigates the negative impacts of traditional energy sources and climate change but also elevates the status of women, enriches families and neighborhoods, and propels communities towards an electrified future.

To date, Solar Sister has empowered over 10,000 women entrepreneurs, providing clean energy solutions to more than 4.5 million people across Nigeria, Tanzania, and Kenya while mitigating 1.4M CO2 emissions. However, addressing gender gaps, particularly in smartphone ownership, remains critical to delivering the significant benefits of digital tools and the internet to women, their families, communities, and the economy. 

Solar Sister, in partnership with Cisco, is committed to empowering women by embracing digitization. They have launched a new digital literacy curriculum, delivering initial training to over 400 entrepreneurs and developing additional modules on customer data collection and marketing topics. Over the next five years, Solar Sister aims to scale their model across Africa, empowering over 30,000 women to start clean energy businesses and providing more than 30,000,000 people with access to clean energy solutions.