Mbolo Association
Professional and technical training center to empower and upgrade women’s and young girls’ livelihoods by strengthening their productive and entrepreneurial capacities and abilities, with a strong focus on renewable energy.
What solution does the innovation propose?

The center targets women and girls from low-income families and offers diverse training opportunities tailored to their specific needs to foster their business and entrepreneurship skills. The offer encompasses programmes such as tie and dye, or sewing and cosmetics, but focuses strongly on renewable energy (RE) training to build the women’s skills and capacity to become RE managers, suppliers, and businesswomen.

The center itself owns an 8.3kW solar and a wind hybrid energy system and offers diverse RE services which contribute to its sustainability. They show how RE solutions can develop new economic opportunities for women, hence creating positive gender role-models for girls in the region.

Their flagship product is the Solar Multifunctional Platform (SMFP), a facility installed and managed by Fandema graduates, that provides access to low-carbon energy and electricity for off-grid, rural communities in a sustainable and affordable way. The SMFP promotes the preservation of the environment whilst reducing the gender inequality gap and increasing women’s resilience. The photovoltaic solar system is installed, maintained and run by women and provides services to reduce women’s household workload creating time that can be invested in other income generating activities. Additionally, it reduces energy poverty, ensures food security and generates and diversifies alternative livelihoods through sustainable income generating activities.


Presented by the Minister of Energy as a best practice for West Africa at the Vienna Energy Forum (2015). Case study for West Africa at the Gender Forum in Sierra Leone (2014).

Impact evidence

  • More than 620 women from more than 70 rural villages have been trained since 2010.
  • 18 graduates lead their own businesses and more than 40 started their own ventures.
  • Employment opportunities for women in the green sector have increased.
  • More than 30 women have been trained as solar installers.
  • Since 2016, women have proved that solar energy can be part of solution on the national energy supply as they installed more than 25 photovoltaic solar projects, with 663kWp avoiding the production of 864 tones of CO2.
  • The current 3 main Gambian RE plants (120 kWp solar and 84kWp, wind), were inspired by visits to Fandema.
  • Other communities in 5 other regions in Gambia have requested replication of Fandema solar project.
  • Enhanced well-being in villages with RE facilities installed by Fandema students and graduates, with the result of 24/7 reliable and affordable energy, and better access to water and sanitation
How does it work?

Offered trainings last between one and three years and are comprised of personalized professional itineraries and a methodology which develops four pillars: literacy skills, technical skills, general knowledge about sexual and reproductive health as well as other soft and social skills, and business skills. The technical skills depend on the chosen courses. Fandema offers classes on tailoring and sewing, tie and dye, arts and crafts, cooking, information and communication technologies, painting and welding, and renewable energies. The center has daycare and primary school facilities, a mothers’ club and a shop where all the products made by the students are sold to visitors. The students also commit to become future trainers and are encouraged to eventually return to their communities to promote local development.

The SMFP is a development and incubation center for income generating activities located in a solid bioclimatic house, which provides the community with basic lighting, water supply, and other economic opportunities. RE access can reduce poverty and enhance well-being for the community, specifically for women who install and maintain the centers. Each one is tailored to the community’s activities and needs; however, they all incorporate an equipped room to reduce women’s unpaid household workload and enable girls to attend school regularly instead of performing house chores. The SMFP can provide a wide range of services and income generating activities such as laundry services, ice-block making, milling machine, mobile charging, video club, or cooling groceries for food preservation. In a later phase, the incubation center should receive and nurture different business proposals from other community members, serving as a catalyst to develop well-being in rural areas.

Geographical scope

Where was initially developed
Training center in Tujereng and SMFP center in Mamuda (Gambia).
Last updated: 
September 2020