Partner Spotlight: Sustainable Green Fuel Enterprise (SGFE)
Sustainable Green Fuel Enterprise (SGFE) is a Cambodian social enterprise that developed an innovative way to raise awareness about women’s empowerment through the clean fuel value chain. SGFE, a recipient of the Alliance’s Spark Fund, sells bags of clean-burning char-briquettes that reach the heart of the Cambodian population and can be found in households, markets, corner shops, restaurants, and at street food vendors. Currently, we sell about 50 tons of char-briquettes per month, reaching an equivalent of 3,000 households. However, the lifespan of the char-briquette bags extends far beyond their initial use. The bags are used as storage or by waste-pickers in the city and on the dumpsites and it is estimated that they remain in circulation for between six months to a year, capturing a broad audience.
Through capacity building support from the Alliance, SGFE worked with a leading gender expert to develop a gender action plan to make our business model more inclusive of women. In implementing many of these actions, we came up with a creative way to incorporate social messaging onto the briquette bags. SGFE engaged young Cambodian art students to illustrate messages around women’s empowerment, while also giving them a platform to showcase their work. Twenty-four students of fine arts at the Royal University of Phnom Penh entered the competition, and the winner was selected from a panel of judges representing both international and local organizations including the Alliance, AsiaLIFE, Phnom Penh Post, and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs.
[pullquote]“Women have the same rights to politics, economic activities and social issues in the world as men,” said art student Huyno, outlining his winning creation, which carries a simple but effective message depicting a woman shaking hands with the earth. “The world here is showing value and worth to the woman, and that is important. This has been a great experience for me, and I am excited and proud to see my work on the bags.”
This month, the bags emblazoned with the winning image hit the streets of Phnom Penh, with a total of 4,500 already printed. Currently, SGFE sells more than 1,500 bags containing 30kg of char-briquettes every month. In addition to reaching end users, the bags have also sent a message to retailers. Ms. Nhor, a char-briquette saleswoman in Phnom Penh, is aware of the substantial challenges women face. She is proud of the message communicated on the bags and will ensure that all her customers – men as well as women – pay attention to the picture, as she believes everybody should contribute to the change needed.
SFGE discovered that these bags offer an innovative, low-tech, and highly capillary communication channel for spreading messages about women’s empowerment and the socio-economic benefits of clean cooking solutions. In the future, SGFE plans to repeat the competition in different schools in Cambodia on different topics such as climate change, deforestation, education, rural development, children’s rights, sustainable energy for all, and poverty.