African Women's Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP)
The African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP) seeks to equip African businesswomen with the tools and opportunities to accelerate the growth of their businesses, become leaders in their communities and drive social and economic progress in Africa.
AWEP was launched in July 2010 at the United States/sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Co-operation Forum (AGOA Forum). Organized and supported by several U.S. agencies, under the leadership of the U.S. Department of State, the original AWEP event sponsored by the Office of International Visitors brought 34 African businesswomen from AGOA-eligible countries to the United States for a two-week program in 2010. Last year, 40 women from 37 African countries participated in the program, which provides the women with an opportunity to meet and network with U.S. business people, policy makers, industry associations, non-profit organizations advocating for women’s economic opportunities, and multilateral development organizations.
The program outlined three goals:
(1) Accelerate the growth of women-owned businesses and export capacity;
(2) Foster leadership for women’s business organizations; and,
(3) Support women’s advocacy roles as “voices of change” in their communities
African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP) is an outreach, education, and engagement initiative that targets African women entrepreneurs to promote business growth, increase trade both regionally and to U.S. markets through the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), create better business environments, and empower African women entrepreneurs to become voices of change in their communities.
Globally, women make up 50 percent of the global population, 40 percent of the global workforce, yet only own about 1 percent of the world’s wealth. Given the opportunity, women invest the majority of their income into their families and communities, but unfortunately most women experience unnecessary barriers that limit their ability to fully participate in the economy.
In Africa, women are the backbone of communities and the continent’s greatest potential to unlocking economic growth as they provide the majority of labor with the least amount of resources. Reductions in the gender gap in education, health, political participation, and economic inclusion will result in an increase in the continent’s economic competitiveness.
Through the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP), the U.S. Department of State seeks to dismantle the obstacles to business opportunities and economic participation that African women face. Launched in July 2010, the initiative identifies and builds networks of women entrepreneurs across sub-Saharan Africa poised to transform their societies by owning, running, and operating small and medium businesses, and by becoming voices for social advocacy in their communities.
Supporting economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa is a policy priority for the United States. The AWEP initiative further advances the Secretary's Policy Guidance on Promoting Gender Equality through economic and civic participation in sub-Saharan Africa. Finally, AWEP directly supports two of the four pillars in the Presidential Policy Directive on U.S. strategy toward sub-Saharan Africa by (1) spurring economic growth and trade through incorporating women into the economic sector and (2) promoting opportunity and development throughout the continent for women and youth.See more