TecAp assists women in rural Nicaragua to become microfranchisees.  These rural women receive training on sales and marketing strategies so that they can successfully sell solar-powered products and promote larger systems of solar energy and labor saving technologies to their neighbors. This has succeeded in improving their incomes and their neighbors’ quality of life in their fair trade coffee cooperatives.

The first group of rural women began receiving training from IDEAS in June 2011. They learned how to become a part of the TecAp microfranchise and how microfranchisees sell small solar powered articles like flashlights and lanterns and promote other appropriate technologies as well. In the first pilot project, the women were selected by their cooperative, a group of small farmers in northern Nicaragua near the Honduran border.

Microfranchising is a system of support to women microentrepreneurs

This business model allows for quick start up and on-going support to nascent businesses. In this case, IDEAS is the microfranchisor and TecAp is the microfranchise, which is providing rural women a whole new system of business opportunity that includes the training, products and technical assistance to jump start them into a new technology business. Microfranchising began in Asia and spread to Africa but is little known in Latin America.

IDEAS has created the first one, TecAp, in Nicaragua. TecAp is currently recruiting and training women promoters, who educate their neighbors about the benefits of solar energy. Women who become microfranchisees earn a commission by selling small innovative, solar-powered items like flashlights, a lantern for the kitchen, a desklamp for children studying at home, a light for the house or barn, and cell phone chargers. As the neighbors realize the usefulness of smaller solar items, the microfranchisees encourage their neighbors to consider larger, long-term investments in roof-top solar panels and other labor-saving technologies. The program design is based upon women first learning to sell small solar items and then moving on to large roof-top systems to power homes or farm activities.

Based upon the initial success, IDEAS greatly expanded its coverage in northern Nicaragua. Emboldened by the initial success of the model, IDEAS has borrowed money to buy and import five shipments of these small items that are to be sold to these women microfranchisees. The sale of the products provides significant income to low-income women microfranchisees that live in rural areas without electricity.

Click here to support the expansion and further testing of the TecAp microfranchise.