‘WOMEN IN ENERGY’ MOTIVATING ENTREPRENEURS TOWARD ENERGY SUSTAINABILITY THIS BIG ENERGY SAVING WEEK
An article by Rina Abazi, of the MFK Communications team, on the occasion of the Big Energy Saving Week, running from 18-24 January. This campaign aimed to highlight the importance of women’s economic empowerment in Kosovo through the implementation of energy efficiency measures and renewable energy solutions.
As the energy crisis emerges and concerns over rising electricity costs grow, upgrades in energy efficiency and advancements in renewable energy solutions have an importance in addressing energy challenges for households, business-owners or service providers.
Studies show that efficient use of energy is positively linked with women’s economic empowerment. The use of energy efficient appliances helps entrepreneurs attract more customers as well as allows for diversification in products for sale. But, on the other hand, there’s a lack of firms’ understanding of energy efficiency measures, and the potential benefits of energy-saving technologies, according to a recent report by the European Investment Bank.
In light of the above and in response to this year’s Big Energy Saving Week, MFK decided to focus on raising awareness of direct and indirect energy efficiency benefits, inviting women entrepreneurs, who have been part of Women in Energy Entrepreneurship Program, use this Big Energy Saving Week to join us in this outreach campaign, aiming to inform businesses on the importance of implementing energy efficiency measures as a sustainable way for expansion and growth.
It’s been encouraging to see around 100 women entrepreneurs joining MFK efforts, enlightening us about the impact the MFK’s support has had in their operations and how it has helped them improve energy efficiency and save energy. Over 20,000 people have been reached only in the last 8 days, thus making it the biggest women-initiated organic campaign so far.
Here’s three key benefits of investing in energy efficiency measures as witnessed by women entrepreneurs.
- Saves time and increases production capacity
Women entrepreneurs who have undergone efficiency investments claim to have helped their businesses increase their productivity. For Arbenita, owner of Margo Garden Bar, replacing her old oven which used a lot of electricity, with a more efficient one, designed to use less energy, has been a very smart move for her business as it helps her staff to be more productive and use their time more wisely since this smart oven, purchased with the support of MFK’s WEE Program, cooks food much faster and more evenly.
- Saves money
High electricity bills are stated to be among the biggest challenges for entrepreneurs, given that Kosovan businesses rely heavily on electricity, when it comes to heating and cooling. Implementing EE would help businesses save energy and money and use these savings to invest elsewhere. Both Vlora (owner of N’Mal) and Pranvera (owner of Gezimi yne) invested in renewable energy solutions for their businesses, including the installment of solar panels and solar water heating systems. Both confirm for this investment to have been among the wisest they have done for their businesses, as it allows them to save up to 50% on energy and water bills.
- Helps grow and expand sales to national and international markets
MFK’s ‘Kosovo Constraints Analysis’ found that 62 percent of female entrepreneurs in Kosovo did not start their business based on a desire to expand and innovate, due to the lack of access to loans and other investment opportunities. Now, having interviewed some women entrepreneurs, WEE beneficiaries , we could see their desire and aspiration to grow and expand internationally. One of them is Diba Celina, a fashion designer, who has a very clear idea on how to use MFK investment. “We have been equipped with new machines which apart from being much quiter, creating a pleasant and less stressful environment, they are much more efficient and help us save in many ways, thus allowing me to expand my business, and launch other sales points even across borders”-says Diba.
Three principal challenges prevent women entrepreneurs from expanding their businesses: access to finance, knowledge, and networks of contacts, IFC report shows. Ultimately, this is what MFK’s Women in Energy Program aimed to support women with. The program has allowed women entrepreneurs overcome gaps in finance through three types of grants: SMART, ADVANCED, and SIMPLE, provided know-how through personal coaching ‘Business Acceleration Program’, as well as gave them the opportunity to network and foster cooperation among women entrepreneurs of different fields, thus meeting many potential customers.
Women Energy Entrepreneurs- WEE is a component of the broader Women in Energy Program supported by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). MFK and MCC remain committed to empowering women entrepreneurs and expanding their role through the implementation of clean sustainable energy solutions.