Teddy’s on a mission to train up female solar technicians right across Kenya.
A capacity building program with USAID and Arizona State University saw Teddy travelling to local institutions across the country to train up county technical colleges and universities on how to install solar. A recent study carried out by the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) had found that of 300 solar installations only 10% were still functioning after a few months. The problems with the systems were attributed to issues with installation, the solar systems had been set up by technicians with no particular training in solar. Teddy’s project sought to fill this gap. As a female trainer standing in front of all male classes Teddy felt that more needed to be done to encourage women to participate. She recommended a female training course to Arizona State University and was told “Teddy take it on”. The training was a huge success and only strengthened her resolve to bring more women into the sector she says
“I think it was a very good experience it helped me realise that we have to reach out to others, we have to be generous with our time, with our knowledge because the ladies were very open, they wanted to learn, they were hungry for knowledge”
Teddy wasn’t surprised by the aptitude of her women trainees, perhaps that is because she has been overturning gender stereotypes her whole life. Her aptitude and confidence started young. As a school girl she found that “maths was part of me” and this developed into a love of sciences. As a consequence she never questioned getting into a career in engineering despite “the culture and the mentality that everyone has that the girl shouldn’t do engineering, for starters a girl can’t fix something on the roof”.
For Teddy solar energy is about the “impact on the ground”. An enthusiastic professor at Makere University drew her attention to the possibilities of solar energy for Africa and a university project setting up a solar system for an off-grid school crystallised this focus “it was so exciting…you could see impact immediately the students were going to school and then they could study at night, they could have a bright future, they could dream to be what they wanted to be”. Teddy wanted to learn more about renewable energy and some day bring this knowledge back home so she left Uganda for Nairobi. She went join the faculty at Strathmore university in Nairobi where they were developing a regional centre of excellence for renewable energy.
As well as running a multitude of renewable energy programs at Strathmore Teddy continues to advocate for women in her field and has helped set up WISE (Women In Sustainable Energy and Entrepreneurship) to support women in the sector. She believes that they represent the future of solar energy
“you can see the impact doesn’t stop there, it goes back to the communities where they stay – we’re telling them “look you don’t get the knowledge to keep it in the bag or in the books or the institution, you have to take it at home.” They have a lot of impact on the ground.”
Teddy wears a Kiko Romeo dress and Le Collane di Betta earrings.