Empower Generation selects two top performing entrepreneurs from our women-led solar distribution network to attend an international training, as part of our incentive program, each year. The entrepreneurs are selected based on the highest number of sales and their financial and sales agent management abilities. Kala Khatiwada of Pragati Saurya Urjah and Pabitra Aryal of Tri Urjah were chosen for their stellar performances. They had the opportunity to visit Barefoot College in Tilonia, India and were accompanied by our Program Coordinators Chanchala Dhakal and Kabita Subedi.

The Social Work and Research Centre (SWRC), widely known as Barefoot College, founded by Bunker Roy in 1972 in Rajasthan, India, is a voluntary organization that works on a wide range of issues from solar energy, to health, to rural water supply, to education with the aim of developing local villagers’ capacities, irrespective of having no formal education, to solve social problems.

Pabitra (left) and Kala (right)

Entrepreneurs Pabitra (left) and Kala (right)

Our team left Kathmandu for Delhi, India. Kala was excited for the journey, as it was her first time on an airplane. After arriving, the team visited the Barefoot College campus where different products such as solar, handicraft, household, and cotton items are made. The team observed the solar cooker and water heater system production sections where a total of 13 women worked, after receiving just six months of training. The women had sold 60 solar cookers to individuals in their community, hostels, and hotels. They advertise the products through demonstrations at local and national exhibitions.

Our team also saw a solar production center where 37 women from nine different non-electrified countries were trained. Many of these women were either widowed or disabled, and poor. The six months training enabled the women to become solar engineers and to install solar systems back in their home countries.

Barefoot College Trainees

Barefoot College Trainees

Most of the women at the solar production center knew neither English nor Hindi. They learned how to become solar engineers through hand gestures and practical observation. These women were mostly over 35 years old, and this inspired our entrepreneur Kala. She said, “I always thought I was too old to run my business but looking at these women I am highly motivated. If they can, why can’t I?”

Our team also visited the design and handicraft training sections at Barefoot College. Many women created their own designs. Our entrepreneur Pabitra shared, “I wish I could arrange something like this back in my community where women could use their creativity to earn a living.”

The team observed other training sections of the college such as one for rainwater harvesting as well as the radio station and hospital. The team also saw a puppet show, which is organized every 10 months to raise awareness on issues related to best business practices, education, health, and water.

Overall, the trip was a good learning experience for the team and especially for our entrepreneurs Kala and Pabitra. They are now even more determined than ever to work hard for their businesses and communities!