The United States Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) has launched the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE), a new program aimed at supporting the growth of women entrepreneurs around the world.
The Academy, in support of the White House-led Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative, will equip women with the practical skills needed to create sustainable businesses and enterprises.
Through an inclusive learning community, women from around the world will be given opportunities to explore the fundamentals of business, including creating business plans and raising capital, with the goal of building a better future for families and communities around the world.
Women participating in AWE will have access to Dream Builder, an online course on women’s entrepreneurship developed through a partnership between Arizona State University’s Thunderbird School of Global Management and global copper mining company Freeport-McMoRan.
Participants will engage in facilitated lessons on business management and network with like-minded entrepreneurs and mentors in their regions and the United States.
AWE is designed to empower at least 50 million women worldwide by 2025 to fulfil their economic potential, and in doing so, create conditions for increased stability, security, and prosperity for all.
It is also built around three main goals; to provide online education resources, foster networks that support access to mentorships, and connect women through existing exchange programs.
The inaugural cohort will feature women in 26 countries, primarily in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa, including: The Bahamas, Barbados, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ghana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Kenya, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Rwanda, Senegal, Spain, South Africa, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Zambia, and Uganda.
The U.S. Embassy in Kampala, together with Atiak Sugarcane Plantation Out Growers Cooperative Society and the Network of Women in Agribusiness and Development (NoWAD) will be running the Academy to connect Ugandan women with the tools needed to bring their entrepreneurial ideas to life.
In Uganda, the program will run in various districts across the country including Kampala where 70 participants have been selected and 200 others in districts of Agago, Kitgum, Amuru and running until December.
The ambassador of the United States to Uganda, Deborah Malac who officiated at the launch of the first cohort at the American centre in Kampala said that women have been lacking skills to take up business opportunities and also maintaining them.
“The American embassy has designed programs that will impact the many average women in low places most likely those prone to early marriages, dropping out of school and those at risk of getting HIV programs that will impact them positively including skilling them,” said Malac.
She added that the AWE program is designed to be a broad-based, expansive, comprehensive entrepreneurial business curriculum.
“This academy is established with specific, high-quality standards; each topic area is led by women entrepreneurs who are experts in their field. The content encompasses what you need both for your business and for yourself,” Malac noted
Recent years have seen heightened importance given to women’s role in business. The gender pay gap is increasingly being brought into mainstream consciousness and gender balances in the workplace are being highlighted.
Phiona Luswata, AWE facilitator said that women will be trained in 13 modules which start from generating a business idea to actual implementation.
“Over 200 women selected from Uganda will get a chance to go and meet other thousands of women who will be selected from different countries globally so that they can share ideas. We will provide all the necessary training starting from mentors and free business tours,” said Luswata.
Georgina Mugerwa, Assistant Commissioner – Ministry of Trade, Industry & Cooperatives said the ministry has put in place enabling factors for everyone to engage in business.
“We have managed to open up markets from within and outside of the country for goods produced. Women are highly called upon to engage in businesses, we have pushed for a balanced gender budget and made sure women issues are prioritized and catered for. We have supported women cooperatives and we encourage more women to engage in businesses,” noted Georgina.
BY FRANK SEMATA