Supporting the green economy of George through community skills development

SEA, in partnership with the Green Business College, convened a 5-day training course aimed at capacitating low-income, vulnerable households in George on how to start a hotbox manufacturing business. In particular, the training aimed at improving the energy welfare of women, who are the ones usually responsible for cooking, and are most exposed to indoor air pollution as a result of using unsafe fuels like paraffin, wood, and coal.

In November, SEA convened a 5-day training course to 28 budding green entrepreneurs on hotbox manufacture and business skills development in George. The training was intentionally designed to improve the energy welfare and livelihoods of low-income communities in George, particularly for women, through the provision of skills for manufacturing and developing a hotbox business . As part of the Africa’s Energy Future Project, which aims to capacitate George Local Municipality and its low-income households on household energy use and sustainable energy technologies from a gender perspective, this training proved to be a great intervention of achieving such goals.

SEA partnered with the municipal Local Economic Development department and the George Business Chamber and was supported by the municipal Electro-Technical Services department which is the lead department on the Africa’s Energy Future project. The training course was facilitated by the Green Business College, whom SEA has a long-established relationship with through similar trainings provided for in Johannesburg. These trainings in Johannesburg are also part of the Africa’s Energy Future project support that SEA is undertaking with the City of Joburg’s Department of Environment and Infrastructure Service to support energy service provision to low-income households. Other key partners included IThemba Lobomi, Support Centre for Land Change.

The 5-day training included two days on the manufacture the hotbox, and the last 3 days focused on imparting much-needed skills on business and entrepreneurial development required to start and run a hotbox business.
By the end of the training, each participant had walked away with a hotbox they had sewn, and more importantly with sufficient skills and knowledge to start their own hotbox manufacturing company. These participants are now part of the greater hotbox network in the country and have the support of the Green Business College who will keep the momentum going. There is also potential for these budding entrepreneurs to be further supported by the Municipality and the George Business Chamber due to the positive social and economic impacts that can be realised as a result of the training provided.

The training successfully achieved its objectives, which was to capacitate individuals from low-income households on sustainable energy technologies through skills development on hotboxes manufacture in order to become sustainable energy entrepreneurs. More importantly, the training encouraged social and economic change in participants enabling them to create a livelihood and alleviate poverty that they are currently challenged with. Furthermore, the training was able to raise awareness about alternative sustainable technologies in order to help reduce the negative health impacts and risks associated with using unsafe fuels like paraffin, wood and coal for cooking, especially on women, who are typically the ones responsible for cooking.

Feedback from the particpants:
"We would like to have more of these trainings for the people because they are motivational and inspire change".

"Thank you to all the facilitators for opening our eyes on how to sustain our lives as women of South Africa".