We’re excited to feature Neha Misra, Chief Collaboration Officer & Co-Founder of Solar Sister in our Solar Women Summer Series, powered by RenewableEnergyWorld.com. Neha is an Energy Economist passionate about women’s economic empowerment, energy access, climate justice and collaborative leadership.
She serves as a Solar Suitcase Ambassador for We Care Solar, which is bringing solar power to maternal health clinics around the world. Neha has earlier worked with The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in South Asia and North America.*
SOLAR WOMAN: NEHA MISRA
What do you do at Solar Sister? Please share a bit about your path to your current role.
I am the Chief Collaboration Officer & Co-Founder of Solar Sister, an award winning social enterprise advancing women’s leadership to build a world of sustainable energy prosperity. Five years ago I had the life changing opportunity to be a part of Solar Sister’s founding team with my mentor Katherine Lucey. We connected over our own personal histories as women working in energy sectors spanning from New York to New Delhi. Both of us had seen first hand how lack of energy access has especially acute consequences for women and girls across Asia and Africa for whom darkness is not a figure of speech! We had also seen the ripple effect of putting “power” in the hands of women solar entrepreneurs in Sundarban Islands of India to the impact of a simple solar light on the life of rural farmer Rebecca in Mpigi, Uganda. We also shared the commitment to change the narrative from women being victims of energy poverty to women holding the key to transform their families, communities and our shared planet to an era of light, hope and opportunity for all! Since then the tiny spark of an idea has become a global movement now.
What does Solar Sister do?
Solar Sister recruits, trains and mentors women as clean energy entrepreneurs, bringing modern energy to their rural community’s doorsteps. We are working Uganda, Tanzania and Nigeria to improve fundamental energy access and address climate change through the power of women’s enterprise. We have created over 60 green jobs, and empowered 1500 Solar Sister entrepreneurs who have brought life transforming solar and clean cooking solutions to over 250,000 people in even the most remote communities in Africa. The journey has brought me deep personal fulfillment and a global community of Solar Sisterhood beyond borders.
Are there other companies and/or people you respect who have helped you advance in your career or who have helped you grow Solar Sister?
Absolutely! Collaborations with a network of mentors, friends and supporters have been key to Solar Sister’s journey so far. Ashoka, Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation and Global Social Benefit Incubator are just a few of our important networks that have helped us scale and also learn from other change makers in the clean tech sector and social enterprise sectors. At the community we partner with committed organizations like the African Wildlife Foundation, the Mother’s Union of Uganda and the Green Belt Movement, which share our vision of local, enterprise based programs that give women opportunity, confidence and voice to lead.
Is your team hiring? Please describe someone who excels at Solar Sister.
Solar Sister has grown from a pilot program of 10 women entrepreneurs in Uganda in early 2010 to a thriving social enterprise working across the US (global HQ), Uganda (since 2010), Nigeria (since 2012) and Tanzania (since 2013). We have come far from when we started. Yet, we have just begun and are continuing to multiply our impact through international and local partnerships. Solar Sister’s values are radical entrepreneurship, transformative opportunity, trust, sisterhood, courage and grit. If these strike a cord, we want to hear from you. There is something we all can do!
What’s the biggest opportunity you’re going after right now at Solar Sister? Personally?
We are scaling light, hope and opportunity. Solar Sister is celebrating its first five years of impact while dreaming and executing for the next five! Our goal is to expand Solar Sister network to bring our business opportunity to over 5000 women across Africa over the next five years. These Solar Sister entrepreneurs will bring cutting edge solar and clean cooking technologies to over 2.5 million people. The biggest mountain to climb right now, literally, is Mt.Kilimanjaro! We are doing a benefit climb for raise support for women entrepreneurs in Africa. Our goal is to seed 1000 new entrepreneurs through this campaign. Learn more and provide your support here!.
In your opinion, what 3 skills does someone need to excel in the solar industry?
- Imagination to see the possibility of a sustainable future for all!
- Perseverance to convert that possibility into reality!
- Creativity to enrich that reality through form new alliances!
Any tools, books, or resources you’d recommend for women interested in working in solar?
*Neha holds a Master of Business Economics degree from the University of Delhi, India; a Bachelor of Science (honors) Physics degree from St. Stephens College, Delhi, India; and a certificate in design of solar energy systems from Solar Energy International, Colorado. USA. When not advancing women’s role in clean tech, Neha is a poet and a contemporary folk artist. Ask her what’s the connection between art and social enterprise; and you’d hear a prompt reply, “beauty!”
- Learn more about women in solar via RenewableEnergyWorld.com (the exclusive media sponsor of this summer series)
- Learn the financial modeling background and perspective often lacking in deal negotiations by taking our Solar Executive MBA Training
- Study with Ryan Mayfield, Solar PV Technical Editor at SolarPro, by taking Megawatt Design
- Full Course: Solar PV Installer Boot Camp Training and NABCEP Entry Level Exam Prep
- Join us on July 13th at the Intersolar North America Happy Hour hosted by Women in Cleantech & Sustainability, Solar Marketing Group, Women In Solar Energy and GRID Alternatives.
- We’ll also be at the WISE Intersolar North America breakfast on July 14th!
- Check out the National Women in Solar Initiative webcast series hosted by GRID Alternatives and SunEdison
- Free Course: Basic Solar PV Design, Code, Economics, Sales, and Site Visits
- Free Course: How to Use Solar Leases to Grow Your Solar Business