1 Reply Latest reply: Nov 22, 2014 12:02 AM by eatuzon RSS

    How can barriers be overcome to engage women entrepreneurs effectively and appropriately in clean energy initiatives? Is agency-based empowerment a critical link?

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      Women can catalyze clean energy technology markets by engaging in income generating opportunities along the value chain, particularly in marketing, distribution, sales and after sales servicing of these technologies. Women as the traditional household managers of energy, have an understanding of what other women want and need. Women can play a unique role in these value chains as they leverage their existing networks to promote the adoption of these new technologies, as well as their roles as trusted sources of information to other users with regard to product recommendations.

      However, there are various barriers that women face in becoming entrepreneurs in energy industries in developing countries. Corporate Citizenship estimates that there are approximately 860 million women worldwide who are deemed “not prepared” and/ or “not enabled” to take part in the world economy. This number is expected to rise to 1 billion in the next decade, The challenges women face come from both the extrinsic socio-cultural environment as well as their intrinsic psycho-social condition.  Both extrinsic and intrinsic obstacles need to be addressed in order to successfully integrate women entrepreneurs in the energy sector.


      Extrinsic factors that pose challenges include:

      • Lack of women’s access to education. Women are underrepresented in higher education programs in science, technology and engineering and importantly, the greatest proportion of those who are illiterate, are women.
      • Women have a lack of proper skills and experience to understand the business environment that they operate in.
      • Women have a greater range of tasks and responsibilities as compared with men. These roles, particularly in domestic chores, mean less time to explore new technologies and the heavy burden of unpaid household responsibilities leads to ‘time poverty’, which could otherwise be dedicated to personal interests, paid labor or educational endeavors.
      • Women are often constrained by social norms; as well as family commitment/responsibility.
      • While women entrepreneurs face similar adverse situations as their male counterparts including lack of capital, insufficient experience, lack of raw materials and marketing opportunities, women businesses are often smaller, slower growing, and less profitable than male businesses. One of the largest barriers to expansion for women-owned businesses is lack of access to finance.

      There are various reports and studies addressing how programs can help women in the BoP overcome the multiple extrinsic barriers to becoming and being effective entrepreneurs, as well as policy recommendations to create more enabling environments. For example, the United Nations Foundation and Exxon Mobil’s “A Roadmap to Women’s Economic Empowerment” delves into how programs and individuals can overcome traditional barriers women face in order for women to empower their selves economically. Despite considerable attention paid towards extrinsic barriers that women entrepreneurs face and interventions to address those, there remains a large gap on the knowledge and research of intrinsic barriers that women face in becoming entrepreneurs.


      More attention needs to be paid to addressing intrinsic factors. There are multiple intrinsic factors, such as self-efficacy, agency, motivation, and drive that contribute substantially to women’s capacity to succeed. Amatucci and Crawley (2010) found that confidence and self-efficacy in financial management directly influenced success among women entrepreneurs and call for additional research to understand women intrinsic barriers to success. In a study taken in Iran, Chegini (2010) found that there is a meaningful and positive relationship between psychosocial factors of empowerment (including self-efficiency, motivation, personal consequence, feeling of being meaningful and trust in others) and entrepreneurship.


      Agency-based trainings focus upon behavioral change by supporting self-awareness, internal motivation, and the abilities to formulate and execute strategic choices. Agency-based training remains critical as increased agency can lead women to be more inclined and able to participate fully in trainings that enhance their knowledge and capacity. Identifying ways to build human agency that engender hope, self-efficacy, and positive behavioral change is requisite to women’s empowerment. Leadership training supports the abilities to develop and execute strategic choices. Leadership training can include modules on topics such as creating goals to achieve identified outcomes, developing plans of action, speaking publicly, and other essential skills. While agency-based training is critical in building internal empowerment, leadership training and practice is important in helping women execute their gained agency.


      Do people agree with this? If so, should there be initiatives focused on training women entrepreneurs in agency-based empowerment and leadership? If not, what are other opportunities (or success stories) in engaging women appropriately and effectively in clean energy initiatives?

        • Re: How can barriers be overcome to engage women entrepreneurs effectively and appropriately in clean energy initiatives? Is agency-based empowerment a critical link?
          eatuzon C4D Master

          Enterprise development at first instance may not be anchored on gender where gender development is both for men and women empowerment. However, in societies where there is an apparent imbalance in terms of broadening opportunities for women, most would be rural women and women in urban-poor communities, that the state is the best ground or domain of governance for a policy that favors women empowerment and development. It will be through a state-policy that creates a space, a locus and focus to mainstream a sustainable enterprise and livelihood development. Start where the women are. Begin where their skills could be sharpened. Find where an industry could be scaled up or replicated so as to build a considerable economic returns that would leave creative impacts. As a practitioner of what I am driving at, in one of the pilot projects initiated in the Department of Agrarian Reform, through the Bureau of Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Development, Philippines, the Village Level Processing Center Enhancement Project began at households and then through the cooperatives or women's association that are into food processing of the crops they used to grow at the backyard or farms that were distributed to them under the Land Tenure Improvement component of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program in the country. These women were provided an intervention to upgrade their simple cooking workplaces into an acceptable standard, i.e., their processing centers were approved to operate by the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA-License to Operate demands a list of documentation requirements but are in hindsight, really workable. The "so what" of it was an incentive for the women to aspire more for greater productivity enabling them to improve the quality of their processed food. The other "so what" of it was having them build that confidence to have their products introduced to the market by creating a venue, i.e., trade fairs-- e.g., Food and Drink Asia in September 2014 where potential buyers were invited and that many of them signed in to buy in volumes the women's food processed products. And on November 14 to 21, 2014, another trade fair---Noel Bazaar was participated by the 45 Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Organizations which were likewise players on a higher level of intervention---- from the VLPCEP to the Up-Valuing Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Products project. It is a customized initiative for rural women who dreamed to be a relevant economic players at the local to national and international niche  markets.  Did they like what they are doing?  The answer is obviously positive as these interventions are not a quick-fix but a staged-kind of undertaking where women thought of what they can do best not just for their own families but as a contribution to the greater issues on food security and poverty. Women knew they have roles to play which in the long run changes culture and governance including those that deal with clean energy and green economy. Bundled with VLPCEP and Up-Valuing projects is the Community-Managed Potable Water, Sanitation and Hygiene initiative of DAR where low-cost technology was introduced providing Agrarian Reform Communities to have clean/potable water for their enterprises, alternative fuel through the bio-gas digester units and other capacity building on Good Manufacturing Practices.  Hence, women can support, adopt and adapt to clean energy policy of the state. They could also developed as entrepreneurs of the energy sector under the domain of the civil society in collaboration with the business sector and/or the government. Development banks and the local governments could be major facilitators of an initiative promoting clean energy [science-based knowledge].

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