WASHINGTON - The African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP) is taking place in Washington, D.C., through August 3, and Kansas City, Missouri, August 4 - 6, in conjunction with the 2010 United States/sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum (AGOA Forum). Women from AGOA-eligible countries will participate in the program. The AWEP is organized by the U.S. Department of State and United States Agency for International Development (USAID), under the auspices of the State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program.
AWEP aims to empower African women entrepreneurs to become part of their national and global business network by increasing opportunities for women to use the AGOA program and expanding opportunities for exports and U.S. investment in sub-Saharan Africa.
The slate of AWEP activities includes:
· Meetings with officials from the Departments of State, Commerce, and Agriculture, and USAID;
· Presentations by companies and industry associations;
· Networking opportunities with non-governmental and civil society organizations, and diaspora groups;
· Introductions and exchanges with Congressional members and staffs; and,
· Information sessions with local government, civic and business leaders in Kansas City.
The professional exchanges are designed to help the participants build business alliances, develop advocacy and communications skills, identify resources to advance women's entrepreneurship, and take advantage of opportunities for U.S. partnerships through AGOA.
The women will have the opportunity to interact with African ministers of trade, finance, and agriculture during an AGOA plenary session in Washington entitled “Integrating Africa’s Women into the Global Economy.” Events and lunches will be sponsored by the Corporate Council on Africa, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City, the non-profit organization, ONE, and others.
Activities are expected to continue in Africa after the U.S.-based program concludes. The follow-up activities, some sponsored by companies such as ExxonMobil, will include training and mentoring programs for the businesswomen in their communities, as well as advocacy efforts to promote changes to discriminatory systems against women in business and to put in place greater systems of opportunities and support for Africa’s businesswomen.