Access to clean cooking stoves and fuel saves lives, empowers women (through protecting their health, freeing up their time, and saving money) and drives the energy transition forward.
In many countries where clean cooking targets have already been set, implementation of policies is extremely slow, mainly due to lack of funding. Data and knowledge about this sector are available but are often mispackaged and not well communicated.
Moreover, the clean cooking sector presents opportunities for women to make their mark in a growing market. Their involvement as employees and entrepreneurs helps businesses thrive. However, to date, women remain an underutilized asset in achieving this goal.
With this is in mind, the Clean Cooking Alliance (CCA), Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) and the Global Women’s Network for the Energy Transition (GWNET), launched the first-of-its-kind Women in Clean Cooking Mentorship Program in February 2021, with 30 mentees from 16+ countries in Africa and Asia.
The goal of this mentorship program was to support participants with career-advancing activities, assist with concrete goals and foster strategic thinking and innovative ideas. In addition, networking and knowledge-sharing were central components during this one-year journey.
The program was also supported by a group of strong mentors – each of whom is a senior professional committed to making a difference and having a positive impact on younger woman’s career in the clean cooking sector.
Key components of the program included:
- Bilateral interaction for 12 months between mentees and mentors
- 5 knowledge-transfer webinars
- 5 mentee and mentor networking sessions
- 1 concluding webinar
- An online storytelling series: meet the women in clean cooking
“The program has been very helpful. I am very grateful to the Clean Cooking Alliance, Sustainable Energy for All, and the Global Women Network for the Energy Transition for investing their resources in me. Numerous opportunities in my area of research came to bare throughout the program. I have also learnt to integrate economic viability in all future research work as far as scaling up and funding is concerned. On a personal growth level, it has taught me how to brand and position myself for success. My number one take away message is to rid myself of career imposter syndrome and own my space. I am as intelligent and capable as any other expert; this means that I have live up to expectation all the time.”
Rejoice Ntiriwaa Ossei-Bremang, Mentee
“It was exciting to learn about how the HR dynamics I was going through were similar to those of my mentor. It was encouraging to have someone who I could sound board with and get challenged to be even better in what I’m doing. It was a refreshing experience! I would recommend this for every woman in the energy sector to apply.”
Wilfrida Macharia, Mentee
“I had such a positive and worthwhile mentorship experience. My mentor, Estelle, has helped me build my confidence, sharing tools to improve my leadership skills and understand my purpose for existence. She showed interest not just in my career development but in other areas and in me as a person.”
Ruth Gicharu, Mentee
“At the beginning of the Women in Clean Cooking Mentorship Program, my desire was to learn how to be among the top social change agents and the proverbial tipping point for women’s equality in the clean cooking sector as an ecopreneur. Today as I graduate from this program, sure, I am not yet there, but I feel more valuable and confident to engage in women’s advocacy to change the perception of many to give women equal opportunity for a quality life.”
Awuor Otieno Dorothy, Mentee
“Through the Women in Clean Cooking mentorship program, I gained valuable knowledge that will be useful in my career. I gained a good understanding of challenges of access to clean cooking solutions. I was able to link my academic research with practice on the ground. I published three high quality academic papers, where I highlighted energy challenges and proposed strategies to help mitigate energy problems. This was my first contribution to achieving clean and sustainable energy access in Rwanda. I would like to continue my career in the energy sector, by working with government and international organizations on policies and key energy projects to improve access to modern energy.”
Mukeshimana Marie Claire, Mentee
“I am truly grateful to be able to participate in Women in Clean Cooking Mentorship program and to CCA, SEforAll and GWNET for recognising the need for such a programme for Asian and African countries. Through this platform I got connected with my mentor Esther Altorfer of Sistema Bio who helped me see a larger picture for clean cooking in India and where my true skill sets could be most used without compromising on my personal wellbeing . Under Esther’s mentorship, I have been able to set myself on a path that has allowed my work in clean energy to expand in multifold while constantly keeping a balance between my professional commitments and personal life. I am hoping to stay connected to her and to seek her guidance from time to time. I am also very excited to be a part of the first cohort where we would have an opportunity to stay connected through a common cause and use each other’s experiences to further expand our crucial work in this space.”
Nitisha Agrawal, Mentee
“The mentorship program opened my eyes to the challenges faced by public officials working in the energy sector, and how policies such as subsidies influence the choice of fuels by households. Public officials need to work a tight rope in helping governments allocate subsidies and taxes in way that addresses the overall cost to the economies. (A key lesson is removal of kerosene subsidies in Indonesia that resulted in savings for the exchequer, after the government’s Kerosene-to-LPG conversion program. South Africa, where my mentee is based, as well as other Sub-Saharan countries, can learn from Indonesia).”
Elizabeth Muchiri, Mentee
“The programme has an eye-opener for me as I have been able to learn from other women in the sector and therefore, I don’t have to make the same mistakes they did. I have learnt a lot on leadership, resource mobilization and personal development. My network has also grown as I have been able to meet other women in cooking from other countries and learnt from their experiences. My greatest takeaway from the programme has been on the need to master my subject and be an expert.”
Mariam Nyambura Karanja, Mentee
“It was a great honor for me to participated in the “Women in Clean Cooking” Mentorship Program. In one year, I benefited of an exceptional experience from a professional with many years in the field of clean energy for cooking based in Kenya. Thanks to her support and various knowledge-transfer via webinars which were organized during the program, I’ve developed several skills such as project management including time management, budget management, self-confidence, and developing business network, which gives me more opportunities. Every minute that I devoted to this program was beneficial to me. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to the success of this program and thank you to my mentor.”
Angel Cibemba, Mentee
“The mentorship programme has been very instrumental for me. From getting to meet my mentor Katrin and the conversations we have had; I have been impacted not only career-wise but also through the relationships that I have been able to build. I have learnt a great deal over the past 1 year through sharing experiences and knowledge transfer in a very diverse group of talented individuals.”
Ketty Aldy Odero, Mentee
“The past 12 months has been nothing but transformational. My experience in the program and particularly under the mentorship of Ms. Iwona Bisaga was life changing to say the least. Her unwavering support, guidance and valuable expertise and experience opened my eyes into wanting to do more to contribute to the achievement of SGD7. I am grateful to have also benefitted from the very insightful webinars we had and to the speaker’s openness to sharing their knowledge with us. Thank you to the Global Women’s Network for the Energy Transition (GWNET), Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) and Clean Cooking Alliance (CCA) teams for this experience.”
Syprose Ochieng, Mentee
“The Women in Clean Cooking mentorship program is a lifetime opportunity to meet amazing women worldwide who are change-makers in the clean cooking sector. As a mentee, you have the opportunity to exchange with a mentor who has perhaps been in the same situation as you or knows your challenges and most importantly who will accompany you, encourage you and give you practical and effective advice on how to not only be successful in your chosen field but also be a better person.”
Marina Fenka, Mentee
“The Mentorship Program for Women in Clean Cooking was an opportunity to collaborate with peers all over the world to share experiences and learn from each other in diverse policy and implementation areas to promote clean cooking. As a mentor, it gave me the opportunity to work closely with an aspiring young lady working primarily in research to improve clean cooking. It was a mutually beneficial experience as I also learnt a lot from her while helping her develop and improve more on the business and policy aspects of her projects. It was delightful to watch her implement tips she has received and attest to the visible improvement it has made to her work overall leading to her national nomination as one of the rising stars in Energy. Altogether, a most rewarding experience !”
Ifey Ikeonu, Mentor
“This mentorship program is a crucial tool in breaking barriers for women, not just in the energy access space but across the global workforce. More initiatives like this are sorely needed to build women’s solidarity and leverage each others’ experiences to grow increasingly stronger leaders – whether women are just starting out in careers or already in top positions. It can sometimes feel lonely out there, and knowing there’s someone who has your back along the way is priceless. It was an honour to be a part of a network of such inspiring ladies, both mentors and mentees, and I greatly appreciate the opportunity given. Thank you to the organisers, and please keep up this important work.”
Genevieve Goulding, Mentor
Despite the challenging year, we are amazed at the progress made by participants as well as the personal and professional development experienced by the group. We would like to thank all the participants for their commitment and active participation, wishing each of them continued success with their endeavours.