indirect beneficiaries
women trained in entrepreneurship
The objective for the number of sustainable energy solutions sold
The NGO Geres is addressing the lack of electricity connections in remote rural areas in Myanmar by implementing a project to distribute sustainable energy solutions.

As you go down the kilometers on the rough track leading to Hta Nuang Kahn village, the electric power facilities become increasingly scarce and finally disappear. We are in the Dry Zone, one of the poorest regions in the country where 18% of the population lives. The residents here do not have access to reliable and quality electricity. 
Most households use wood for cooking on traditional stoves, which puts forest resources under a lot of strain, while the deforestation rate stands at 2% a year nationwide.

This energy source also places an extra burden on the chores of women, who spend 200 hours a year on average collecting wood, to say nothing of the respiratory diseases related to the exposure to toxic fumes.

Geres, with support from Agence Française de Développement (AFD), is addressing this issue by promoting the emergence of distributors of “last kilometer” sustainable energy solutions (SES), which are the missing links to reach the most remote villages. In this context, eight women have been trained in entrepreneurship to sell several types of SES: solar solutions, such as solar lamps or kits, as well as an improved wood cookstove.

Myanmar: Women are working for sustainable energy
Myanmar: Women are working for sustainable energy
The first solution is simple, sustainable and economical: it involves optimized wood stoves, which have been developed in the lab by the Geres teams with support from the European Union.

“They consume 40% less wood and heat faster than traditional stoves: it now takes us seven minutes to boil water instead of ten”, explains Myint Myint Maw, who has been an entrepreneur for five months. This solution also substantially reduces the amount of smoke given off.

These improved stoves cost MMK 3,000, i.e. just under two euros. “The price is reasonable, families can afford to buy the equipment without getting into debt. In Hta Nuang Kahn village, 54 people have already acquired this solution”, Myint Myint Maw is pleased to say.
Myanmar: Women are working for sustainable energy
Daw Aye Myint lives in a big woven bamboo house with all her family. “Before the installation of a solar kit at home, we used candles for lighting. But we couldn’t leave them burning all the time because of the risk of fire. We then installed a solar panel connected to a car battery, but we were told that we also had serious risks of short circuits and fire… I heard about the solar kit through a presentation session organized by Myint Myint Maw.”

This equipment, which is in the form of a solar panel, a battery and several lamps, is a real change for her: “It means we can use light to work in the evening, and also safely recharge our phones at night! I’ve also had a kit installed at my mother’s, she lives in another village, and I’ve told my neighbors about it.”

Loans are offered for this product, which costs more, MMK 130,000, i.e. about 77 euros. Daw Aye Myint opted for this solution: she will repay MMK 20,000 a month for about a year for the purchase of her solar kit and her mother’s kit: “This has allowed us to invest by spreading out the purchase price for the kits over a longer period.”
Myanmar: Women are working for sustainable energy
Myint Myint Win is based in the town of Thazi and has been travelling around the neighboring villages for years to sell everyday products: blankets, clothes, ventilators… And now SES.

She has developed her skills since she joined the program: “I’ve received training in business models, marketing, financial management, as well as in the products themselves… It’s taught me a lot! For example, I now know more about how to do the small everyday accounting activities.”

The Geres teams, with their partners from Myanmar’s civil society, subsequently continue their support for business management and sales, for example, by helping them organize demonstrations or for the installation of solar kits.

These new skills have opened up new horizons for her: “I’d like to open a fixed store to sell my products, rather than going door to door. This would allow me to expand my activities. With this additional source of income I could finance my two children’s studies so that they can go to university”, she explains.
Myanmar: Women are working for sustainable energy

In Myanmar, 50.5% of women work, against 85.2% of men. In addition, according to a study by the International Labour Organization on women’s entrepreneurship in Myanmar (2014), they come up against a number of obstacles to set up their own business: less access to resources, credit, information and education, but also the burden of domestic responsibilities…

These are barriers that the project wants to remove by offering a comprehensive solution to help volunteers, who are selected for their motivation and commitment, start their activity. In addition to training, they benefit from working capital to facilitate the investment. In practical terms, Geres provides them with products which they repay as and when they make their sales. 

Being an entrepreneur makes Myint Myint Maw really proud: “I’m really happy to have been able to start this activity, support myself and be independent!