MASERU – The Lesotho Renewable Energy and Access Project (LREEAP) has completed a two-week incubation of women from the Rothe constituency into energy entrepreneurship. The training was opened by energy and meteorology minister Mohapi Mohapinyane, who is also the Member of Parliament for Rothe. The training workshop was also graced by the African Clean Energy Company and Solar Lights Representatives who demonstrated the use of energy efficient cook stoves. Five community associations were capacitated on how to build business ideas and increase energy access in Lesotho through empowering women in energy entrepreneurship. About 35 of the participants were also awarded certificates of attendance.
The drilled associations focused on building business ideas on piggery, broiler-growing, layers, vaseline and laundry soap production projects – ideas which, through the help of LREEAP, will be submitted to organisations which will help them with funding. Speaking at the closing ceremony Minister Mohapinyane called on participants to put to good use the knowledge they acquired and be able to implement. He also emphasized that the ministry will follow up to ensure that all associations are run smoothly and have consistency.
Mohapinyane had observed at the beginning of the training women are largely underrepresented in the energy, entrepreneurship, employment and leadership sectors in the country. “In an effort to close gender gaps in the energy sector, the government of Lesotho, through funding from the World Bank, is implementing Component 3 of LREEAP on women’s employment, female entrepreneurship, consumer education and productive uses of energy,” Mohapinyane said.
Facilitating the workshop as an entrepreneurship development trainer, Paseka Ramokoatsi noted that all the participants should be eager to learn, expressing gratitude with the outcome of the training because “you now know the importance of having a business plan and how to do it before starting a business.” On behalf of the organisers LREEAP coordinator, ’Mathapelo Silas, said this was just the beginning; she said they are going to capacitate more associations in the country which have an element of energy need in their projects.
The reason they picked these five in Rothe, she added, is because they were in operation and showed continuity and needed energy equipment in them. From ‘Folofela-Leraha Sehoai’ in Liqoabing, and on behalf of the participants ’Mapulane Likhotho expressed satisfaction with the knowledge and skills they were equipped with. “I came here as a blank woman without any knowledge, but today I can draw up a business plan. I will be passing the same knowledge to my community from now on,” she said.
All members of the five participating associations were also given portable energy efficient cook stoves, pallets and pots to be used when pursuing their projects. LREEAP started in 2020 and is expected to run for seven years with a M4 million budget to help in incubating women in energy entrepreneurship countrywide. Lesotho’s energy sector is dominated by high dependence on biomass for provision of energy, with over 50 percent of rural households using biomass for cooking and space heating. Rural dwellings are mostly female-headed households who live below the poverty line and travel long distances to collect fuel wood for household chores.