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Impact investor supports women-led energy startups in Zambia and Rwanda

LONDON, (The Southern African Times) – Energy is among the “least gender-diverse” sectors across the globe. Women account for a paltry 22% of the number. A look into the senior management positions reveals a much lower figure.  This means there is not only a lack of representation but an equal problem in upward mobility. At the 4th Africa Business Forum 2021, the energy sector was singled out as one of the “least diverse” areas.

Opes-Lcef has invested in Munyax Eco, through its Restart East Africa program. Munyax Eco is a Rwanda women-owned and led enterprise providing access to affordable and clean energy solutions.

Munyax handles the installation of solar water heaters, particularly those affecting over 1200 B2B and B2C clients. The company also deals with solar street lighting and photovoltaic off-grid systems.

Munyax Eco is primarily fixated on changing some of the established norms by hiring more women engineers and technicians through training. So far, 50% of the company’s staff comprises of women. The covid-19crisis has significantly impacted the operations of the company. In early 2020, revenues dropped by 50% and salaries were equally slashed by 70% to maintain liquidity and keep operations going.

The global pandemic heavily affected the movement of people and interfered with the movement of goods. A disruption in the supply chains doubled the costs of transportation further delaying new orders by weeks. Funding from Restart East Africa will help resume operational normalcy, finance inventories, and expand overall product lines. Munyax aims to install 1600 solar water heaters by 2021.

Restart East Africa has also invested in WidEnergy, a Zambian women-led company providing last-mile clean energy solutions through a paygo model. The company is also setting up Women in Energy Hubs alongside EEP.

WeHubs are solar-powered containers that generate energy for productive use while serving as distribution centers for other products and services. WidEnergy has made strategic partnerships with Zambia’s d.light distributor and Greenlight planet solar products targeting 50,000 low-income households while impacting the lives of 150,000 by 2025.

Opes-LCEF targets early-stage social enterprises operating in emerging markets. The company’s portfolio has 17 countries, spread out across 11 countries – 7 of which operate in East Africa.

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