“I am on a mission to provide clean and affordable energy to women and girls in African rural communities through the use of modern technologies like AI,” says Monique Ntumngia, 29, founder of the Green Girls Organisation working in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The organization uses a unique scoring algorithm called MNKB92 to optimize energy strategies for villages where they train women and girls to assemble and sell solar lamps and to deploy biodigesters to create methane for cooking and organic fertilizer for crops.
The organization provides the materials for free but receives a 40% cut of the revenue from the sale of fertilizer and solar lamps. The organization helps women find markets for the fertilizer.
“Women entrepreneurs applied to the program via a simple online application form, including examples of how their organization might address one of the Challenge questions,” explains Stacy Pourfallah, vice president of social impact at Visa.
Pourfallah explained the process for selecting the winner. “Applicants were vetted against a set of criteria such as Challenge fit, presentation, added value and partnership opportunity.
A total of over 1,000 applicants were vetted. A regional winner for each Challenge was selected to attend the program’s Global Finals in Paris during a live event where finalists pitched their solutions Shark Tank-style to a panel of judges and a room of full of stakeholders.”
A parallel process yielded a winner in fintech profiled here last week.
As I spoke with Ntumngia, something became clear. As passionate as she is about clean energy, she’s more passionate about improving the lives of the women the organization trains.
Electricity is completely transformative in the villages where Green Girls works. When the team arrives, the villages are completely dark at night. When they leave, there is light. The implications go far beyond being able to read, study and do chores after dark.
She says, “We have been able to increase literacy levels by a whole 70%.”
And by deploying the biogas digesters, women’s lives change dramatically. “They no longer have to go into the forests, into the bushes to search for firewood. A lot of these women were victims of sexual harassment. It is unthinkable to me that you set out as a mother to prepare food for your family and you lose your dignity as a woman.”
Additionally, millions of women and children die each year due to lung problems developed and/or aggravated by cooking fires. Cooking with methane from the biodigesters is smoke free. A community with biodigesters could see health benefits almost immediately.
Visa’s Pourfallah boasts, “Since it was founded in 2015, Green Girls has trained over 3,000 girls and 600 rural women from 33 communities across Cameroon, Central African Republic, and DRC Congo to generate solar energy and biogas from human waste. More than 200 households have completed solar installations, their only source of electricity (lighting).”
Green Girls has accomplished a lot with a little, having raised just $300,000 over its four-year life. The $100,000 prize will go a long way to helping women and girls in Africa.
Ntumngia says, “There’s no guesswork in big data.” Thanks to Visa, there’s no guesswork in choosing a high-impact opportunity for women and girls in Sub-Saharan Africa.