Yemen’s recent revolution posed many problems for the citizens of the country for many reasons, but one big problem was electricity. On some days, communities had only an hour's worth! In this darkness, people had to continue with regular life - and for some that meant studying for exams. A group of 16-year-old girls from Sanaa decided to take matters into their own hands, and find new ways to live in the light.
This group of young women joined an entrepreneurship program through their school, and established the company called Creative Generation, which focuses on utilizing solar energy. By doing so they displayed a remarkable ability to affront certain ideals within an Islamic society, which, in many cases, keep women and girls confined to school and the home.
The girls say that at first, they were faced with resistance and fear from their families.
"In Yemeni society, we have customs and traditions for a girl — at a set time, that's it, she stays at home and doesn't go out much," explained Creative Generation CEO Wafa Al-Rime. "But a boy is a boy, he can go in the street or anywhere. We go to school and home, and that's it."
Eventually the group was able to convince their families that they wanted to do something good for Yemeni society. Thank goodness their parents came around!
Creative Generation has invented numerous solar powered devices, including blue and green solar-powered patio umbrellas. They've sold their products to chic hotels and government offices. This has given the girls enough money to get off the groundnow the girls are focused on their main goal - producing energy the average Yemeni family can afford.
And their umbrellas have butterflies on them!
Because they rule so hard, Creative Generation recently sent 6 girls to Qatar to attend a regional INJAZ Al-Arab competition for student companies (part of the Colorado-based company for student entrepreneurs, Junior Achievement Worldwide).
At the competition the girls opted to wear traditional Yemini clothing, sporting dresses with red and silver designs as opposed to the traditionally Islamic black abayas. They wanted to stand out as distinctively Yemeni. The best part: they won!
Hands-on experience and involvement with the company and the production of solar-powered goods is giving these girls a set of practical skills that are totally invaluable. Kudos to Creative Generation, for setting a model for girls in the region and promoting the idea that religion, culture, society and economics can flourish by engaging women.
Photographs via Al-Monitor, Creative Generation Facebook.