Lagos–– On Tuesday, the U.S. Mission hosted a virtual event to launch the third cohort of the Lagos edition of the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE), a U.S. government initiative that supports women entrepreneurs around the world.
Working with local partner, Ascend Studios Foundation, founded by Inya Lawal, an alumna of the Fortune-U.S. Department of State Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership program, the U.S. Mission is supporting the training of 250 women entrepreneurs selected from a pool of over 15,700 applicants, representing a cross-section of industries, from fashion and textiles to health and agri-business.
Delivering remarks during the virtual program, U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Kathleen FitzGibbon explained that the AWE was designed to empower female entrepreneurs to fulfill their economic potential, creating conditions for increased stability, security, and prosperity for all.
She expressed the U.S. government’s continuing commitment to supporting women to break barriers, gain economic and financial independence, and create pathways to prosperity.
“When women are economically empowered, they re-invest in their families and communities, strengthening the social fabric of society and education and skill levels of the workforce. This multiplier effect spurs economic growth and enhances stability,” Chargé FitzGibbon said.
Jumoke Olowookere, a 2019 graduate of the program, shared her success story with the new participants. “The AWE program connected me to the right networks and resources and my dreams grew bigger. Today, as an upcycling entrepreneur, I am the founder of Nigeria’s first waste museum,” she explained.
Over the next three months, participants have access to the DreamBuilder platform, a blended business training course developed through a partnership between Arizona State University’s Thunderbird School of Global Management and global copper mining company Freeport-McMoRan.
In addition, participants will connect with networks of business leaders, women entrepreneurs and mentors who will facilitate lessons related to business management such as preparing business plans and raising capital. Beyond learning in the academy, they will continue to be mentored and encouraged to share, learn, and network with AWE alumnae and members of their cohort.
To augment the existing slate of projects focused on women and economic empowerment, the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) established the AWE program in 2019. A total of 220 women entrepreneurs participated in the 2019 and 2020 cohorts of the U.S. Consulate Lagos AWE program.