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Her dream of bringing clean electricity to Nigeria earned Natasha Ibori an innovator award

Natasha Ibori launched her solar company, Uwana Energy, with the goal of providing clean and affordable electricity to her homeland of Nigeria. She was elated to learn that she had won an inaugural $10,000 Innovator Award from Northeastern’s Women Who Empower inclusion and entrepreneurship initiative.

”Being able to do a grant application that focused on you as a person—as well as how viable your business is—was really important to me,” says Ibori, who earned her Northeastern degree in international affairs in 2018. “Especially in this very patriarchal country, I have had people just completely doubt my capability and my credibility. So having been able to show myself as a person on this application, and not just that it is a female-led business, is really, really important.”

With several partners, including two from Boston, Ibori launched Uwana Energy—Uwana being the Efik word for brightness—which sells, installs, and maintains rooftop solar panels. Ibori’s company has been trying to break in by marketing its solar panels to small-business owners, with the eventual goal of being sold in stores throughout Nigeria as a safer alternative to fuel generators.

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