Luisa S Zarate

Roles at NAAEE:

30 Under 30

London, United Kingdom

2020 EE 30 Under 30 Changemaker Grant Project
Ma'na - Environmental & Resilience Training

In collaboration with the Impulsum Lab, this project will create the first environmental training program in Mexico for coffee farmers who are facing challenges due to climate change, using a participatory approach to skill development. Piloting with two coffee cooperatives in Oaxaca, the project will promote a framework for sustainable agri-food practices that guarantees food security and stable livelihoods for rural farmers, which will integrate environmental training (awareness of natural resources and environmental conservation), community-based resilience and adaptation (using circular economy models), and mitigation (sustainable agriculture practices and forest conservation agriculture). The long-term goal is to adapt the program for additional agri-food sectors.

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EE 30 Under 30 Biography

Since Luisa was young, she has been immersed in a wide variety of social and economic development projects. Currently, Luisa works in a key position at ILUMÉXICO, a leading social enterprise that tackles poverty through solar energy. This enterprise provides financing for solar home systems so that families can stop buying candles and diesel to light their homes and have access to clean and efficient energy. In total, they have installed close to 10,000 solar home systems and displaced over 5,000 tons of CO2.

As Innovation Manager at ILUMÉXICO, Luisa developed an initiative called Inclusive Solar Businesses, which aims to create sustainable business for women in off-grid communities using solar energy. Luisa decided to develop this initiative due to the important relationship between energy and economic growth, as she noticed that communities without energy access tend to be stuck in a cycle of poverty. The Solar Businesses project aims to empower women to use energy access to create new economic opportunities. Doña Blanca, one of the ambitious entrepreneurs participating in this initiative, has tripled the sales at her grocery store since she installed a solar refigerator to replace the ice blocks previously used for refrigeration. Today, there are 25  businesses like Doña Blanca’s, with a projection to scale considerably in the following years.

Luisa also developed a solar energy training platform for young people in indigenous and rural communities that helps them gain the necessary skills for formal employment in the sale and installation of solar home systems.This program empowers young people to tackle energy poverty in their regions and also acts as the leader of the Community Ambassador program, which aims to empower women in off-grid communities to become the key players in energy access.