Youth Solar Microfranchisees are a vital part of TecAp, the solar microfranchise
The youth solar technicians, once trained, are prepared to assess a family’s electrical needs, plan and build a home solar system, and diagnose and repair faulty systems. While there are a few solar companies in Nicaragua, most of these companies and their workforces are located in the larger cities, far away from the areas where solar power is most needed and most utilized. In contrast, these youth technicians are located in those isolated areas and, thus, are willing to visit a family’s home when technicians from a city find it economically not feasible.
The youth are a valuable resource for TecAp and their neighbors with electricity. Over the years, it has been proven that the youth in coordination with TecAp will install systems in the most remote areas where other solar companies are unwilling to work.
The trained micro-technicians:
- Assess the needs of rural families for solar energy and other appropriate technologies. They learn to assess the buyer’s needs and recommend the appropriate system size.
- Provide on-site diagnostics of systems that are no longer working. They order the parts from TecAp and make the repair.
- Be able to determine if a family has misused their system and advise them on better usage and maintenance strategies.
- Troubleshoot and repair or install their own community members’ solar systems and generate income by selling their new skills.
- Earn money by finding clients and also earn by installing the system. A single micro-technician could earn money for each of these.
Training micro-technicians lowers youth unemployment and reduces migration
The leadership of many farming cooperatives and NGOs are very excited about this aspect of the TecAp project, as it will allow youth to learn a new trade that will earn them money. When the land to till is small and the family has many children, some will not inherit land or be able to become coffee farmers like their parents. As a result of this higher tech training, fewer of those youth will be forced to migrate to the cities or other countries to look for jobs.
The TecAp microfranchise provides youth in rural areas with marketable skills. The demand for those skills is only going to grow (expanding rural electrification by way of solar power is both a short-term and long-term goal of the Nicaraguan government and is supported by many international entities). With the world prices of solar components like panels dropping every year, there will be increased demand in the future from those families who are scarcely able to afford a roof top system now. The type of DC installation skills the youth learn also serve to do other electrical (AC) work.
Women being micro-technicians changes their life opportunities
Some of the youth that have been trained are women in their 20s. This program is an excellent opportunity for young women in coffee communities, as they are even less likely than their brothers to inherit any of their family’s productive land. Many young women in remote areas are limited by their parents to work in or near their family’s home until they marry. Afterwards, then women frequently are constrained by their husbands, many of whom want their wives to only work in their own home and farm. There are few employment options in the rural areas aside from farming, so girls who want to work outside the home, and boys that have no land to work, are effectively forced to leave the rural areas for the city or another country, separating families that often rely on each other’s incomes to survive. The women micro-technicians are offering a skill set in their communities that neither men nor adults have so they are valued as having a vital contribution to bring solar electricity to the area.
See them in action and hear them talk about their stories in our YouTube videos.