Lillian: a local entrepreneur

(em)Powering female entrepreneurs on Kiwa Island

Lillian is strong and empowered, she works hard in the early morning heat on Kiwa Island, in Lake Victoria, Kenya, to cook food and serve hot meals to the hungry fishermen who are arriving home after a long night fishing on the lake. Lillian has lived on Kiwa Island for over 15 years, she is part of a community of 3,000 people who are reliant on the local fishing industry as the main source of livelihoods. Many of the jobs the local women, like Lillian, work in on Kiwa Island provide inconsistent incomes with fish prices being set by male leaders and fishermen. Without access to energy, they are limited in the jobs available to them.

View of Kiwa Island looking towards the Lake

Lillian had long identified the need for a restaurant within her community to provide early morning and evening meals to the bachelor fishermen fishing around Kiwa Island. Without access to power and lighting to fulfil her ambition to run her own business, Lillian struggled to make a living from a number of poorly paid jobs. Her income was always unpredictable, making it difficult to keep her family healthy and supported.

Fishing boats on Kiwa Island

When the opportunity arose to rent a one-roomed building on the island’s shores and to get the shop connected to a power supply through the Renewable World microgrid, she leapt at the chance.

Lillian standing outside her shop

With lighting for her business from the Renewable World microgrid, Lillian gets up at 3am each day to start preparing hot meals for the fishermen who are fishing in the local area. Her entrepreneurial spirit and access to reliable, affordable and consistent power, means Lillian now earns 2,000 Kenyan Shillings (approx £15) every day. Lillian and her family are now able to save a small amount of money each week to put towards their children’s education. In just a few short months of operations, the restaurant’s success has enabled Lillian to employ another woman to work alongside her, supporting another female in the community to have a reliable and consistent income.

Lillian preparing food outside

Lillian’s passion and hard work, alongside access to access to clean, affordable and reliable energy have enabled her business to blossom.

There are many new businesses that weren’t previously on the island, including hotels, Mpesa kiosks (allowing people to send and receive mobile money), and Kinyozi (barbers). It’s good that the community can access these services locally. I am grateful to Renewable World for making this power possible.

Lillian standing inside her shop