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Stephanie commented on Connecting Off-Grid Girls To Off-Grid Energy

Dear OpenIDEO,

Thank you for sharing with us your team’s expert feedback and comments! We greatly appreciate your contribution to the refinement of our idea at this stage. We believe we have addressed your comments briefly below and incorporated much more detailed information in response to your expert feedback into our project proposal. Once again, thank you for taking the time to provide such detailed suggestions, which pushed us to make a stronger case and back-up our assumptions.

Ultimately, we believe that our program is unique, bold and necessary because it explicitly targets young women and equips them with training, assets and skills while connecting them to solar technologies that are suitable, scalable and sustainable within the local context. We strongly believe in the three solar technologies we have chosen to incorporate into our intervention (please see our proposal and previous comments for detailed descriptions of the technologies, our sustainability plan and support model as well as our selection process):

1) D.lights S300 Mobile Charger + Solar Light, LED Rechargeable Lantern
2) Nokero N223 Solar Light
3) ovCamp 150Wh Off-Grid Cell Phone Charger Pack

The key criteria used in the selection and evaluation of these technologies were: 1) mobile charging capacity; 2) portability/mobility; 3) waterproof; 4) compatibility of technology to their users; 5) the amount of hours of light per full charge; and 5) brightness level compared to kerosene lights.

We plan to distribute 320 units of these technologies among 1,600 girls within our Girls Clubs in Savalou and Bohicon, Benin (240 d.light S300 Mobile Charger + Solar Light, LED Rechargeable Lanterns, 60 Nokero N223 Solar Lights and 20 ovCamp™ 150Wh Off-Grid Cell Phone Charger Packs). These technologies are not only the most advanced solar products on the market, but also the most ideal for off-grid lighting and mobile phone charging in the rural areas that we will be working in. With only 2.4% of Beninese citizens in rural areas having access to electricity, solar technologies are well-positioned to fill the gap between high demand and low supply of electricity access in rural Benin.

As one expert pointed out – there are existing programs to proliferate green technology in the Global South, but few center women in the delivery mechanism. In this project, Batonga remains true to its core mission – we are ultimately about shining a light on the most overlooked girls in Francophone West Africa, and in this project, we are able to do so by quite literally giving them the power to bring light to their villages. Our intervention’s primary focus is on providing technical skills to the largest number of marginalized girls in our two target communities. Our solution will have the greatest impact among populations with high rates of fertility, maternal/child mortality, poverty-driven sexual exchange, child marriage, school dropout, and young families dependent on a woman’s income. Our desired primary outcomes for the girls in our programs are the short-term benefit of income generation and the long-term benefit of career advancement, putting young female entrepreneurs at the forefront of a nascent field. While providing access to clean energy for off-grid or partially off-grid communities is an important output (which will in itself benefit women in myriad ways), what sets our intervention apart is Batonga’s proven track record in girl’s education, empowerment and capacity building.

During rollout, we will track the number of girls trained, units distributed, energy production, and usage. We intend to measure and track our progress through baseline, midline, and endline assessments, evaluating the effect these solar technologies have on our metrics. Spatial-, age-, and gender-disaggregated metrics will be used to track changes in key social, economic, and environmental outcomes throughout the program. These indicators include employment, income, maternal/child health, food security, educational investments, and social norms (please see our proposal for some examples of indicators related to building the capacity of girls to participate in the green energy/tech space).

Ultimately, our intervention’s primary focus is on providing technical skills to marginalized girls rarely reached by development or charitable initiatives. Historically, Batonga’s interest is and always will be in reaching the most vulnerable adolescent women and girls and facilitating their empowerment. This program builds on our mission by nurturing adolescent girls into green energy entrepreneurs, and in so doing, improving the health, social, educational, and economic outcomes for them, their families and their communities.

Please let us know if you have any additional questions or need any further clarification!

Best,

Stephanie Lord and the Batonga Foundation Team

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Stephanie commented on Connecting Off-Grid Girls To Off-Grid Energy

Dear Anne,

Thank you so much for reaching out! We really appreciate you taking the time to read through our proposal.

While the provision of solar-powered broadband Internet is not in this initial stage of our planning, we are open to discussing this with you and learning more about how this technology might benefit benefit the girls we serve and their communities.

We were excited to hear about the great work your organization is doing in Appalachia! As we read through your proposal, we thought of a few possible resources/connections that we knew of which might benefit your organization.

Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL): DIAL unlocks markets to deliver digital services to the most vulnerable, working with partners to overcome these challenges to create a more inclusive, global digital society.

Connected Nation: Connected Nation facilitates public-private partnerships to increase access to and use of broadband and related technology

Once again, thank you so much for your time and interest in our program!

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Stephanie commented on Connecting Off-Grid Girls To Off-Grid Energy

Hi Kate,

Thanks so much for your thoughtful feedback and comments!

The girls in our clubs/safe spaces benefit from a range of knowledge and skills designed to improve their health, and social and cognitive assets. To date, 100% are actively involved in business skills development and income-generating activities. In fact, each club has developed a unique business plan under the guidance of their mentors. However, most of the girls' businesses are focused on baked goods and soaps/handicrafts which are commonly sold in their villages.

The girls have expressed a strong interest in introducing a scientific component to their curriculum and incorporating green technology training and access into their clubs as they believe it will diversify and strengthen their income generating potential and position them (girls and young women) at the center of a nascent, in-demand vocation. By providing training and access to d.lights, Nokera lights, solar powered cell phone charging stations and other technologies, our girls’ clubs could become a springboard for promising small businesses with young women at the helm. The girls feel that incorporating off-grid energy into their clubs will not only increase their own income-generating power but also assure their communities' equitable and durable access to renewable energy and other technologies.

In addition to the girls we work with, we’ve been encouraged by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) as well as local companies and schools in Benin to incorporate this option into our existing clubs as we scale our model.

Finally, in terms of collaboration, we'd love to connect with other organizations working in Francophone West Africa and/or with vulnerable adolescent girl populations/renewable energy/women in STEM. Collaboration, sharing challenges and best practices and avoiding duplication of efforts is a priority at our organization.

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts,

Stephanie