Solar Mamas initiative trains rural women as technicians and provides the tools and support necessary to start up small-scale ventures in their own villages

Dubai, 6, March 2024-DP World has launched a new collaboration with Barefoot College International (BCI), aimed at empowering rural women in Somaliland.

Through the expansion of the Solar Mamas programme, DP World and BCI are committed to providing access to clean energy and economic opportunities for women in underserved communities.

Globally, around 1 billion people lack access to electricity, with many development solutions relying on complicated technologies that are inaccessible to rural populations and difficult to maintain. Recognising this challenge, the Solar Mamas initiative works at the grassroots level to empower women with practical skills that transcend language and literacy barriers, enabling them to install and maintain solar power systems in their own villages.

In collaboration with their local communities and BCI, DP World selected 10 women from Berbera and Hargeisa to participate in a 3-month training course at BCI’s training centre in Zanzibar. During the programme, the women will learn essential skills in solar engineering and entrepreneurship, equipping them with the knowledge and tools needed to start up their own small-scale ventures in their communities.

Of the first cohort, six are from Berbera, where DP World operates the Berbera port and Berbera Economic Zone. Another four come from underprivileged areas of the capital Hargeisa. The Somaliland programme builds on the success of the Solar Mamas in Senegal, which saw its first batch of graduates in 2022. The original 19 Solar Mamas from Senegal are now well on their way to transforming their own communities by electrifying 952 homes already.

Daba Cissokho is one of the Senegal programmes’ graduates. Hailing from Kedougou in south-eastern Senegal, nearly 750km from the capital, the 42-year-old single mother of three used to run a stand in the local vegetables market to support her extended family. She speaks with pride of her new skills.

“Daba before and after the training is not the same person. I have a profession for which people will reach out to me. I am a solar engineer,” said Daba. “Women should not be scared to try or explore new things. We have so many options to improve our lives if we try”, added Fatumata Ladji Dialo, another graduate.

Maha AlQattan, Chief Sustainability Officer at DP World, emphasised the company’s commitment to women’s education and empowerment: “Our investment in the Solar Mamas initiative has been a resounding success, and we are thrilled to expand this program into Somaliland. By harnessing the potential of women in solar engineering and entrepreneurship, we’re not just lighting up homes; we’re igniting the engines of community growth and resilience.”

Rodrigo Paris, CEO of Barefoot College International added: “We are incredibly fortunate to have found a partner as committed to our core values as DP World. Their support has changed the lives of marginalized women and dramatically improved living standards in their communities. Together, we are driving positive change for generations to come.”

As International Women’s Day approaches, DP World urges stakeholders to support initiatives that empower women and accelerate progress towards gender equality. For more information about the Solar Mamas in Senegal and DP World’s sustainability strategy, click here.