Clean-tech Microbusinesses Empower Women

Mayan Power and Light trains women to start cleantech microbusinesses so they can provide affordable solar power and technologies to rural communities.

A key project of The Appropriate Technology Collaborative, Mayan Power and Light’s technical training program educates women in electrical circuitry, solar power, sales, and marketing, and prepares students to install solar power systems and run microbusinesses. Partnering supplier companies sell affordable essential technologies to the women and provide payment plans and mobile payment services, allowing the women to, in turn, sell, market, and install affordable solar solutions to families in their communities.
Nearly one-third of the women trained by Mayan Power and Light at business workshops operate their own enterprises, serving more than 10,000 people. The microbusinesses sell a variety of essential technologies to local communities, from solar lanterns and permanent multi-panel systems, to fuel-efficient cookstoves and water filters.

Relevance of solution

In general, women invest 90% of their income in their families.1 They have healthier children who receive better nutrition and are more likely to finish school.2 By promoting clean-tech entrepreneurship among women, Mayan Power and Light helps women and their families become more financially secure while providing needed services to local clients and stimulating social change.

Triple Bottom Line


Clean cookstoves cut deforestation in half, and solar lighting can reduce CO2 emissions by 190 million metric tons per year.34


Women in leadership positions within STEM fields help break work-related gender barriers and are important role models to young girls.


Businesswomen trained by Mayan Power and Light earn higher wages, while their customers save on wood fuel, candles, kerosene, and health.


  1. Fortson, Chris, Yale Daily News. “Women’s Rights Vital for Developing World”. (2003)
  2. UN Foundation. “Research to Improve Women’s Economic Potential”. (2012)
  3. Annenberg, Susan, Environmental Science & Technology. “Cleaner Cooking Solutions to Achieve Health, Climate and Economic Co benefits”. (2013)
  4. Mills, Evan, Science. “The Specter of Fuel-Based Lighting”. (2005)