Burkina Faso - Solar training center for women and electrification of their villages

Description: Solar training center for women and electrification of their villages
  • Localisation : Burkina Faso
  • ONG partenaire : Barefoot College
  • Mécène : Verspieren
  • Dates : 2016 - 2018
  • Statut du projet : Archive
  • Engagement financier: 100 000€ - 50 000 € per year (2016 - 2017)
  • Selected project
  • In progress
  • Realized

Presentation of the NGO

The NGO Barefoot College

The Barefoot College is a not-for-profit social enterprise working towards financial sustainability, largely through the delivery of its community based solar programs and its artisan industries. They are a grassroots, Indian based, international organisation, whose values are grounded in the life and approach of Mahatma Gandhi.

The Barefoot College trains middle-aged women from rural villages worldwide to become solar engineers. In partnership with local and national organizations, the Barefoot team establishes relationships with village elders, who help identify trainees and implement community support.

Trainees are often illiterate or semi-literate grandmothers who maintain strong roots in their villages and play a major role in community development, bringing sustainable electricity to remote, inaccessible villages.

For more than 40 years, The Barefoot College has designed new ways to nurture and support a journey to empowerment, one village at a time, one woman at a time. They demystify and decentralise technology and put new tools in the hands of the rural poor with a singular objective of spreading self-sufficiency and sustainability.

The Barefoot College has harnessed solar energy not only to provide light but also as a catalyst to create employment for the unemployable, to boost income for the poor, to protect and sustain the environment by reducing carbon emissions and not cutting down trees, and most importantly to  provide self-reliant solutions within village communities.

The Barefoot Approach has now spread to more than 70 countries. They are expanding with regional facilities in Africa, Latin America and Southern Asia.

The context of the project

The Barefoot approach creates solutions that work at the village level with a combination of traditional skills and experimental learning. The approach, developed in the world and especially in Africa, relies on training illiterate or semiliterate mature women in solar engineering with the mission to electrify their village at the end of a 6-month training period.

In Burkina Faso, the experience started in 2009, when 6 women were selected to come to Tilonia in India to receive their training. When they returned, they electrified a total of 600 households and trained 4 more women. In 2015 7 more women were sent to India to receive training with the objective to become the master trainers of the soon-to-be-created regional vocational training center in Burkina Faso.

Presentation of the project

The energetic issue of the NGO

The electrification of rural areas in Africa remains a priority, as a large number of household living in remote villages do not have access to the grid; Most of the time the connection is complex and expensive to implement. Solar energy presents a cheaper and easy-to-implement solution for these communities as long as they manage the installation, the maintenance and adopt a long- term vision for the replacement of equipment

The action supported by Synergie Solaire


The project of Barefoot College is to open a regional vocational training center in Nobili, Burkina Faso to give solar engineering training to women living in villages not connected to the grid. The vision of the center is to focus the training on solar engineering and to provide additional skills to reinforce women empowerment such as basic literacy, computer skills, income generative training, organic farming, etc.

The long-term vision is to extend the training to women coming from the neighboring countries, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Benin, Togo, Mali and Niger with the objective to spread the Barefoot approach and to reinforce the collaboration between West African countries.

The training center will train 50 solar engineers over a period of 2 years and solar electrify 2500 households  (13000 beneficiaries) .  The global budget  to build the center and run it will also provide all the solar equipment for the newly trained engineers ( so called “Solar Mamas”) to return to their Communities.

Our Involvement

Global Budget 1000 K$

The Project is in conjunction with the local Community , the government of India and Burkina Faso , UN multilateral Organizations

Participation of Synergie Solaire: 100K€ for 2016 and 2017 (50K€/year)

Sustainable development impacts of the project

The Objective of the Action is  to solar electrify 2500 households in 2 years , to enable remote communities to understand and own solar electrification technology and to use it .

The Environmental Impact is  to reduce CO2 emissions, slow the negative impacts of deforestation and decrease air pollution from burning firewood and kerosene.

7 of the Sustainable Development Goals are targeted


"I never thought I could do anything. My life revolved around planting corns and cassava," I only studied till class six you know, I don’t read or write much. I had no idea what a solar panel is or that sun can bring electricity. I was surprised to even discover a solar lamp when I first came here. But now I can fix a solar light.”

- Florentine, a Barefoot solar engineer from Belize