Online Project Showcase

Empowering women to lead their communities out of energy poverty

  • Organisation:

    Pollinate Group

  • ABN or Auspicing Organisation:

    96 161 067 492

  • Scope of Activity:


  • Geographic Location:


  • Target Groups:

    Rural / Regional


Funding Information

  • Total Funding Required (AUD):


  • Current Funding (AUD):


  • Funding Needed (AUD):


  • Tax Deductability Status (DGR):


  • Tax Concession Status (TCC):


  • DGR Additional Information:


  • Other Funding Partners:

    Australian Ethical Super

Project Information

  • Project Commencement Date:
  • 01 Jan 2020
  • Project Completion Date:
  • 01 Dec 2020
  • What issues are addressed?:
  • Millions of people across Nepal lack access to basic needs such as electricity, clean drinking water and sanitation. As primary household managers women suffer the most from energy poverty working in the dim light of a toxic kerosene lamp, cooking on inefficient cookstoves that produce black smoke and lacking time to spend with children or on herself.

    Women and girls in Nepal face deep-rooted patriarchal social morals leading to gender inequality, which exacerbates the impact of poverty. Societal norms are such that it’s difficult for women to find work even for those who want it. In Nepal, women commonly have less power when it comes to decision-making in the home, are less educated and less likely to own land. Most women are marginalised eg. indigenous, refugees, displaced or members of the Dalit (untouchable) caste, have limited education and are sometimes married as young as fifteen. Expectation on these women is to be household managers, raise children and do domestic duties.
  • Project Description:
  • Since 2012 Pollinate Group has empowered women as leaders of change to distribute products such as solar lights and water filters, that improve health, save time and save money for the world's most neglected communities.

    Our Ashden Award-winning empowerment model is an innovative mix of recruitment, training and ongoing support for women to serve their local communities with life improving products. Most of the women we train have not completed formal education and live in areas where opportunities are few. To date we have reached 500 women entrepreneurs in Nepal and India.

    We propose to scale this proven model to new communities in the regions of Chitwan, Kailali and Bardiya. We will recruit and train an additional 50 women and provide them with the opportunity to gain business skills and on the job training and empower them as sales (and change) agents to lead their communities out of poverty.
  • Alleviating suffering / disadvantage?:
  • This project addresses energy poverty and gender inequity. We work with the most underserved communities - the ultra poor living on less than US1.50 pp a day.

    Our solution not only delivers basic skills training to women entrepreneurs such as sales and marketing, cash management and time management. Many of the women have never worked before, experienced decision making power or had aspirations for their future. Therefore our solution offers on-the-job training, mentorship and support every step of the way. We also work with women on gender and empowerment to help her understand the strength of women, opportunities to grow, maximising her capacity and how to actively take part in decision making which is applied in her business, family and community.
    Entrepreneurs are provided a line of credit (starting at $100) to acquire stock they think will sell in their communities as access to credit is another barrier women in our community face.
  • Changing Policy, Practices & Systems?:
  • The women we empower don’t just earn an income; they become primary earners in their homes, even hiring their husbands in their sales business. They are not just distributing clean energy but are influencers in their communities and role models for daughters and other women. After joining our network and becoming successful sales agents, our women have entered public office.

    Chhaya lives in an ultra poor community with unreliable energy in Kailali and joined the Pollinate network in 2016. She saw how much women suffered from energy poverty. With the skills she gained Chhaya learnt how to run a business and be a great communicator. With access to credit she was able to grow her business to a scale where she became self reliant.

    Chhaya is now CEO of her own business in Kailali. Her social standing and reputation also grew as the community saw her as a trusted and capable leader. Recently Chhaya ran for public office and was elected Deputy Mayor!
  • Investing in or empowering women?:
  • The women empowerment program was designed by our Nepali founder and Director of Impact, Sita Adhikari, who witnessed the barriers women in her community faced.

    Surrounded by other women Sita recognised how hard it was for women to earn money. She observed that providing working capital and a one-off training course was not enough to help aspiring micro-entrepreneurs be empowered and lead sustainable businesses. They lacked basic skills but they also needed mentorship and support every step of the way.

    Sita says, “Entrepreneurship is the only way to move women’s rights forward. It gives women an income and an individual identity, giving them decision-making power and agency in their own lives, which leads to community respect.”

    We take a holistic approach to empowerment covering business skills, self-confidence and leadership. Our women earn up to 7 times the informal wage.
  • Media / Promotion?:
  • Pollinate Group shares outcomes and learnings across our sector, with our supporters and with the general public. Our dedicated Marketing Manager identifies opportunities in Australia and globally to spotlight the key issues of gender equity and energy poverty. Most recently we have had coverage in the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) Company Director Magazine, Next Billion, and Finding Impact, a podcast series by the Global Distributors Collective, as well as respected publications in India including India Inc. We are also active on social media platforms educating audiences on the inequity that we experience first hand in our communities and the efforts of not only our organisation but other like minded initiatives. We use our marketing channels to empower our audiences to take action which also includes attending a fellowship program in India or Nepal to contribute to Pollinate’s efforts in-country.
  • How is success evaluated / measured?:
  • Women who enter our network complete a baseline survey which is conducted in person by a local member of our team in the entrepreneur’s local language. We measure her level of education, current income, decision making power, involvement in the community and aspirations for herself among other indicators. We then assess the same indicators every 12 months to evaluate the impact of the program. Some of the KPIs and outcomes that we measure include:

    At least 80% report enhanced business skills
    50% average increase in individual income
    100% contribute to household income (economic empowerment)
    60% report increase in access to credit
    80% report taking on additional leadership roles in community
    80% report increase in decision-making on going outside the home
    100% report increase in self confidence

Contact Information

  • Contact Person:

    Biheng Zhang - Director of Philanthropy

  • Email:

  • Website:

    Click Here

  • Phone:

    +61 403 244 364