Sustainable Energy

How Wonder Women is making superheroes in Indonesia

Anmar Frangoul | Special to
Clean energy changing lives in Indonesia

Made up of more than 17,500 islands, Indonesia is a vast country home to roughly 250 million people. But it has its fair share of problems. According to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), while Indonesia is the largest economy in South East Asia, almost 40 percent of Indonesians are living, "just above the national poverty line," with ethnic minorities and women "more likely to experience poverty."

In addition, IFAD states that, on balance, Indonesian women do not have the same access to education as men, earn less than men, and, "are subject to discrimination and exclusion from decision-making processes within households and communities."

JTB Photo | UIG | Getty Images

Since 2011 Kopernik, an organisation based in the country, has been on a mission to empower women in rural communities and broaden access to both affordable cooking fuel and electricity through its Wonder Women initiative.

Since the programme started in 2011, more than 300 women have become "micro-social-entrepreneurs," selling around 10,000 clean technology products to their communities. According to Kopernik, the initiative trains the women to sell their communities everything from solar lanterns to clean cook stoves and water filters.

"We distribute life-changing technologies to people who need them, especially in poor parts of the country," Ewa Wojkowska, co-founder and COO of Kopernik, told CNBC's Sustainable Energy.

"The Wonder Women initiative is a network of women micro entrepreneurs who are sales agents."

"Many of them sell technologies door to door or at community events, and others have their own shops that sell basic needs within their communities," Wojkowska said. "We provide… a suite of training to them to give them the skills that they need to succeed in their business enterprise."

"And we also provide the technologies to them on a consignment basis, so this reduces the risk that they enter into when they join the programme," she added.

Kopernik claims on its website that the Wonder Women initiative has helped to cut CO2 emissions, "by more than 5,000 tonnes."

Co-founder Toshi Nakamura said that plans were in place to expand the program.

"We are aiming to partner with an additional 500 women and to reach an additional 250,000 people in the next three years," he said, before adding, "This is one of the core programmes that we have."

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