- Who is Damilola Asaleye?
Damilola Asaleye (popularly known as the Solar Queen) is a renewable energy entrepreneur with over 15 years’ experience.She is the Chief Operating Officer and a Co-founder of Ashdam Solar Company Limited (www.ashdamsolar.com). A social enterprise focused on solving energy poverty in Nigeria through providing access to clean energy and also renewable energy capacity building.She is also the Vice President of the Renewable Energy Association of Nigeria and serves as the Founder and Executive Director of the Girls and Women Technological Empowerment Organization – GWTEO (www.gwteo.org), a non-profit focused on empowering girls and women to be leaders in the technology industry through capacity building.
Damilola was recently named a 2022 Rising Talent by the Women’s Forum for the Economy and Society. She was awarded “Woman Making the Most Impact in the Industry” by the Women in Energy Network and the Renewable Energy Association of Nigeria for the year 2021. She also received the Woman in Renewable Energy – Solar Installer of the Year 2021 by the Council for Renewable Energy Nigeria and was recognized as an Energy Transition Role Model for the year 2020 by the Global Women’s Network for Energy Transition (GWNET).
Damilola is a mother of three beautiful girls. When Damilola is not busy working to provide communities with affordable and quality renewable energy solutions, she’s engaged in supporting women in STEM.
- How did your social entrepreneurship journey begin?
My social entrepreneurship journey began at the age of 12 when my parents enrolled me as a photography apprentice and gave me a camera to start taking pictures of my friends in school. Around that period, I also saw the problems the country was facing as regards to constant nationwide strikes, death of a relative due to improper hoarding of petrol and nationwide fuel scarcities. As a young girl, I felt a great urge to solve these energy problems and I knew that my life calling was to solve energy poverty. Hence, photography was my debut and steppingstone to social entrepreneurship while solving energy poverty is my lifestyle.
- Remind us how you heard about the Sahara Impact Fund (SIF) and why you applied to the program in 2021?
A friend shared the information with me on the last day of application which was 30thOctober 2020. I saw the program was targeted at youths inspiring innovation in the areas of energy and sustainable environment. The program was to provide support to this group of social entrepreneurs, equipping them with the skills and resources required to build thriving social enterprises that are doing good and doing well in our society. These resonated with me and what my enterprise needed, and I ensured I sent in a winning application despite the tight deadline.
4. How has SIF impacted your growth since completion?
By implementing strategies from the trainings, I received through the SIF program, my social enterprise, Ashdam Solar Co Ltd has been able to increase our revenue by 250% in less than 2 years. Our structures and processes have improved across all my organizations. I am a better leader; my networking and collaboration skills have improved. Through the program I was recommended for impact investment accelerator programs and got recommendations for grants for my girls’ empowerment program initiative called Green Tech Girls.
5. We understand that beyond the Sahara Impact Fund Fellowship, you have gone on to provide services to the Sahara Group. How would you describe your experience with Sahara?
Since completion of the SIF Fellowship program, I have had the opportunity to provide services to Sahara Group. The experience has been incredible because it has availed my team and I the unique opportunity to provide services toanestablished and largeorganization such as Sahara Group. Clients such as Sahara, places a huge value on quality of work and to be called upon severally to work in a service provider capacity has truly been great and is also an endorsement of the work we do.
6. Share with us your social impact numbers, highlighting direct and indirect beneficiaries.
We have provided clean energy solutions to over 5,000 homes and businesses in multiple states across all the geopolitical zones in Nigeria. This directly impacts about 30, 000 individuals and provides about 20,000 children access to quality education.
Through our girl’s empowerment programs we have trained 6,000 girls on areas of clean energy, climate change mitigation and circular economy. We have also empowered over 600 individuals on solar energy designs and installations with above 50% female participations across board.
7. What are the challenges you have faced on your social entrepreneurship journey and has there been any peculiar ones because of your gender?
As an entrepreneur I have faced several challenges part of which includes access to finance, effects of inflation rates, human resource management, social query of my gender in technology space, etc.
At the start of my clean energy entrepreneurship journey, I received a lot of queries from people doubting my skills as a woman in a technology driven industry. This made me more determined to excel in a male dominated industry and motivated me to have several initiatives that are focused on empowering girls and women to be bold technology leaders and to close the gender gap in technology – with special focuson clean energy technologies.
8. What is the future for Ashdam Solar?
- The future for Ashdam Solar is to expand into other African Countries
9. What advice do you have to give to future social entrepreneurs? Especially, to young women looking to go on this path.
- My advice to young women is to never doubt their abilities, if you can dream it, then you can achieve it. Put in the work and sweat, learn, unlearn, and implement your dreams. Yes, you will face challenges, but you have the strength to face them head-on.
- What do you enjoy doing outside of work.
- Outside of work, I enjoy watching action movies