Happy (Black) Friday, Cowes! Today, we shine light on this heart of gold, Grace Mahary. Read on and feel instantly inspired by the change that Grace is creating around the world.
Give us your “quick n dirty” — tell us a bit about yourself. We want to know what you’re all about.
I’m Grace Mahary, Eritrean-Canadian fashion model, former athlete, and founder of a nonprofit, Project Tsehigh (PjT), that is dedicated to giving solar energy systems to those who currently live without access to electricity.
#LocalLove is all about showing love to bad-ass bosses like yourself. Can you share with us what you do for work and how you make an impact?
Well, I have been modeling for years but in 2016, I started juggling my role as the founder and executive director of Project Tsehigh into my daily work. My team and I at PjT are committed to finding clean energy solutions for developing communities. Our work is currently focused in Africa and our primary goal is to fund solar power operations for the communities we serve. The solar power operations include electrical system installations, education on clean energy technology, and product maintenance, and the impact has been incredible! From seeing students performing better at school, to women creating their own businesses and more, we are proven that with infrastructure, these communities can leap from developing to progressive and sustainable. They’ve gone from zero electricity access to solar powered lights and electronics, omitting the fossil fuels that developed nations all heavily rely on to sustain energy.
We are also committed to making renewable energy relatable and we do this by hosting fun, engaging events, partnering with collaborators that have aligned initiatives, and featuring simple solar powered technologies (i.e. portable solar powered lights) for anyone around the world to use, at home or on the go.
How did you get into this line of work?
Modeling was something that fell into my lap, and I was super hesitant to jump into it as a career. Once I finally did, though, I found irreplaceable reward in it. From booking my first big job in Europe, I was able to fly myself and visit Eritrea, the country from which my parents emigrated to Canada. It was my first trip there as an adult and I was really moved. I saw and experienced how life is without consistent access to electricity and I wanted to do something about the energy shortages. Everyone has the right to electricity, and petrol fueled generators are not the solution as they’re harmful to our health and planet. Providing clean energy solutions seemed to be the most clear and sound way to combat energy poverty and that’s how Project Tsehigh was conceived.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given (career or otherwise)?
Work smart!! I realized you don’t have be the best at everything, and it’s okay to ask people to help. You save yourself time and you learn who wants to work together or support the same initiative you do.
How about the worst?
I think I forcefully forget poor advice because I’m blanking trying to think of some :D.
If you could paint your ideal life, what would that look like in 5-10 years from now?
I would still be developing solar energy solutions and building infrastructure throughout Africa. Hopefully, I can be a voice for girls and women of color who are underrepresented in STEM.
And as I’m currently studying wine and spirits (viticulture is a personal passion), I’ll have hopefully ventured into sustainable beverage making in Africa or California.
What are your favourite resources that you’ve come across over the years (e.g., email extensions, design apps etc.)?
Signing and scanning apps! They’re green office solutions and have saved me so much time!
Who are 3 of your favourite Canadian entrepreneurs that our readers should absolutely be in the know about?
Doc Mckinney– incredible music producer who has worked with some of Canada’s favourites i.e. Drake, The Weeknd
Aurora James– founder of Brother Vellies, she has such fun taste and is a leader in creating sustainable fashion
Rachel Hale— producer/magician/extraordinare who now holds a position at Lululemon as “Toronto Haven” is constantly behind the scenes pushing new talent and building community.
Keep up with our #LocalLove highlight here!