Sarisha Maharaj works in the Energy and Water Advisory Services team at the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector investment arm of the World Bank Group.
She works with governments and companies to change policies and laws, improve how firms conduct business, and bring more affordable, safer and modern energy and water services to impoverished communities. It was her time spent at Awethu Project that opened her up to issues of power and energy access. One the most memorable projects she has worked on so far was the Lighting Africa Project, which has helped communities move away from harmful methods of generating heat and light such as kerosene. This allowed women to start businesses because they did not have to collect firewood from faraway places.
“Through the work we do, I see us as being the modern-day superheroes of the world. Effecting change in emerging markets that are often fraught with issues such as political and economic instability is incredibly challenging, and requires patience, innovation and diplomacy — but when it does happen, it is inspiring! Seeing the effect our work has on people’s lives definitely makes me feel passionate about what I do.”
Having been recently selected to be a Climate Ambassador for the Global Youth Climate Network, she has more of a platform to raise awareness around climate related issues.
Maharaj is affirmed by how cohesive we are as a nation and our capacity to affect change together on things that matter to us. If she was to change anything about South Africa, it would be the pace at which change takes place. “For so many people access to basic services and education are privileges, when they should be basic human rights. For these people, reading at night and refrigerating food are luxuries they don’t know. This simply has to change — urgently.” — Nomonde Ndwalaza