In the Spotlight: Eva Walusimbi of Solar Sister
Eva Walusimbi was honored as an Ashoka ChangemakeHER, Changemakers's inaugural celebration of the world's most influentual and inspiring women. Find her fellow honorees' voices here.
by Katherine Lucey, Founder and CEO, Solar Sister
"The women in my village have so many problems,” said Eva Walusimbi of Mityana, Uganda. “They are poor. Many are single mothers. Many are so young because they have children before they are even old enough to finish school. They struggle."
"I used to think that it was a Uganda problem, or an African problem. But now I know that it is a problem for women all over the world. We need to have opportunity and hope. This is why I am a Solar Sister, to help the women in my village, and to give them hope."
Eva is one of the first women I recruited to be a Solar Sister Entrepreneur. She is a leader in her community and she serves as a role model to the other women. She began selling solar lamps to bring the benefits of solar light to her community. She quickly built a successful business, and she is proud of the income she brings into her family.
But Eva didn't stop there. She reached out to women in her community to help them become Solar Sister entrepreneurs as well.
“This is a business that a woman can do,” Eva said. “Even if she has children to care for, she can do it. She can earn money and pay for school fees and food for her family.”
Eva now acts as team leader to ten new entrepreneurs, providing them with support and encouragement as they begin to build their own businesses. “When the women see me, they have smiles,” she said. “It lifts them up to be able to take care of themselves.”
It is this powerful sense of connectedness that is at the heart of Solar Sister. The women become more than just entrepreneurs who are earning an income from the commissions on sales of solar lamps. They become evangelists about the benefits of the technology, and role models for other women in the community. Their compassion forms the basis of an incredible network of women helping women.
This past week, Eva had the opportunity to tell her story at The Daily Beast's Women in the World Summit. She traveled from Mityana to New York to talk about the importance of women having access to solar technology on the "Women, Tools, Technology" panel sponsored by ExxonMobil.
She gave an authentic voice to the need for women's economic empowerment, and the multiplier effect of investing in women. “Women are the mothers, they are the caregivers,” she said. “When you touch a woman, you touch the whole nation.”
As we left the summit meeting, Eva said, “The problems that women in my village have are not unique, they are global problems. But this week I have learned that women are also a global solution.”
Katherine Lucey is the Founder and CEO of Solar Sister. Working in energy poor communities in Africa, Solar Sister is a social enterprise that provides women with training and support to create solar micro-businesses, providing household income for women and light for their communities.
Eva Walusimbi was one of the first entrepreneurs of Solar Sister. As a team leader for entrepreneurs in her community, her work with Solar Sister helps to provide economic opportunities to many women and provides light and resources to the 1,600 orphans and other vulnerable children at Uganda’s Maranatha schools, which she established with her husband in 1989.