RESILIENT CLIMATE SHEROES: RURAL WOMEN CREATING SUSTAINABILITY REVOLUTION IN SOUTH INDIA.
How do we create a level playing ground for women?
We started our journey with Orora Global to find a powerful yet effective answer to that question. Clean energy emerged as an elegant one-stop solution.
Women - the bigger victims of climate change.
Recently rural communities that lack of access to energy are impacted by climate crisis. In early 2017, we identified such a district in the southern state of Tamilnadu, India — Trichy, Trichy was predominantly driven by agriculture and due to the climate changes, the rivers dried and the local families that relied on farming, struggled to make their ends meet. As many men moved to cities to find jobs, the domestic responsibilities including education of their children completely fell on women. Most women had to be caregivers for health issues rising from burning fossils. They also had no voice in the family’s decisions-making as they were economically dependent. Overall the villages were evolving as unequal, unsustainable communities.
It made perfect sense to take this problem of energy poverty and convert it into an 'entrepreneurial opportunity' for women to financially sustain themselves. In response, we set up Orora’s first rural Solar Production Unit in Trichy which was sponsored by IIT Madras Alumni Association of North America & Womentum. We recruited and trained 25 local women with no education background to produce, distribute and service solar solutions to 60 villages in and around Trichy.
Impact from our Solar Production Unit is beyond clean energy.
Since impact on women is central to Orora, we modeled the production unit in a way that local women could also earn without neglecting their domestic duties. We were surprised to see how much transformation our employees — the local women — had with an opportunity to learn and work with us.
Debtfree. Training on financial planning and saving helped all our employees to be debt free or stopped them from taking further loans giving them a peace of mind that they had not experienced before.
“I had to visit a pawn shop every time I had to pay my son’s school fee, and I was never sure if I can pay on time. Yesterday, I paid the fees with my salary. For the first time it was stress-free.” - Bhuvaneswari, Orora Solar Engineer from Gunaseelam
Turned entrepreneurs. When uneducated women saw that they could learn physics and electronics, they developed a newfound confidence on doing new things! Many of our employees planned and set up small businesses.
“I saved and bought a sewing machine so that me and my daughter can offer tailoring services and create additional income for the family.” - Karpagavalli, Orora Solar Engineer.
Better health. The savings from salary is helping the families get timely medical help during illness. Beyond that, the work environment has positively impacted on the mental well being of our employees. Women working at Orora have evolved as a support system for each other to deal with rough life that lacks opportunities or facilities. While at work, the women channel their energy constructively and the positive environment helps them to deal with their daily grind.
“My son has hormonal issues and gets very violent. I lost my husband. The break from home and opportunity to learn is what keeping me sane.” shares one of our employees.
Bringing clean energy into a community provides the necessary platform for innovative solutions in education, healthcare, telecom, water, and more, enabling the communities to be truly sustainable.
Awards and recognition
For playing an active role in Sustainability Revolution in rural communities has brought us recognition locally and nationally.
We got accepted under Climate Reality Leadership Corps Fellowship program and were trained by US Vice-President and Nobel Laureate, Al Gore on what we can do as a global community to support the shift to clean, renewable energy and to reduce the impacts of climate change on our beautiful planet.
We received the "Innovative Leader Award" at the inaugural Clean Energy Leadership Institute’s emPower conference in Washington DC in October 2018. Our recognition was towards building an original business model breaking the molds of clean energy norms, especially in tackling workforce and diversity issues.
We received “Corporate Citizen of the Year” award in Durham NC by American underground, the Startup Hub of the South and Google for Startups Tech Hub.
Our vision for 2019
We are motivated than ever before as we stride into the next year. Our goal is to bring community based solar solutions to impact 250,000 people without electricity. Orora’s three key focus areas for 2019 are:
Power up India including our efforts to continue making Trichy sustainable and bringing this model to more Indian communities.
Prepare and launch pilots in developing countries as the lack of reliable, clean energy is universal.
Catalyze product innovation for affordable clean energy for rural and suburban communities.
We need your support!
We are currently working on rehabilitating communities affected by tropical hurricane Gaja. According to the state government, Gaja has run through eight districts of Tamil Nadu. Of them, Nagapattinam, Thiruvarur and Thanjavur are the worst hit (in that order). And these three along with parts of Tiruchirappalli, Pudukkottai, Chidambaram and Cuddalore districts.
Every small act of kindness can go a long way in helping the families that have been affected by this cyclone. If you would like to help in any way, email our founder at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your support and involvement.