A group of Yemeni high school girls have created a suite of solar-powered gadgets to help illuminate their country’s post-revolution darkness. When the first revolutions began to sweep through the Arab world, we were all so hopeful about the changes to follow. So hopeful, we called this time the “Arab Spring.” But for people living in Yemen, hope was almost completely extinguished with the lights.
Wafi Al-Rimi told Al Monitor that there were times when the capital, Sanaa, only had electricity for one hour a day, which made studying for exams tricky. So she and her all-girl posse developed low cost solar-powered solutions with help from an entrepreneurship program offered through their school by the non profit INJAZ Yemen, an offshoot of the Colorado-based business education program Junior Achievement Worldwide. They even started a company!
Just 16 years old, Al-Rimi is now the CEO of a company called Creative Generation that makes relatively low cost gadgets that are powered by the sun. Among them are an umbrella fitted with solar power, batteries, light bulb and a USB port.
This mini study portal can run for up to twelve hours on stored energy.
Creative Generation sold five of these umbrellas to the bespoke Mövenpick Hotel in the capital for $150 each. Eventually, however, the female-led company hopes to lower costs so that their products are affordable for all Yemenis.
Creative Generation tied for first place in the Best Company category of the recent INJAZ Al-Arab competition that took place in Qatar. They wore their traditional dress in place of dark abayas and demonstrated that there is more to Yemenis than their national khat addiction.
Six of the 16 girls traveled without the company of their parents to participate in the competition after beating out all of the other companies in Yemen. This, mind you, in a country where the women are expected to stay home as part of longstanding traditions.
“In Yemeni society, we have customs and traditions for a girl — at a set time, that’s it, she stays at home and doesn’t go out much — but a boy is a boy, he can go in the street or anywhere. We go to school and home, and that’s it,” Al-Rimi told Al Monitor.
But she managed to convince her parents that the work they are doing is good for Yemeni society and they came to realize that they had to support her efforts.
Some of the parents forbade their daughters from traveling, but having an all-female company not only touting but actually forging renewable energy solutions in Yemen is still an incredible achievement. The youngest girl is just twelve years old.
Other gadgets in Creative Generation’s repertoire include a red solar-powered lantern and a solar-powered fan fitted with a light and USB port.
Read the whole story at Al Monitor.