African Women's Entrepreneurship Program

Photo of AWEP 2012 participants listening to designer Diane von Furstenberg at the opening session in New York City. AWEP 2012 participants listen to designer Diane von Furstenberg at the opening session in New York City. The African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program, launched by the U.S. Department of State in July 2010, assist women entrepreneurs across sub-Saharan Africa. These small and medium business owners are transforming their societies through economic development and social advocacy in their communities.

AWEP U.S. - Africa Exchange

Through the Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), approximately 30 women entrepreneurs from across Africa arrive in the United States each year to attend professional development meetings and network with U.S. policy makers, companies, industry associations, nonprofit groups, and multilateral development organizations. The three-week program allows the AWEP participants to share best practices, discuss common challenges and learn about the global economy and factors that lead to long-term business growth.

African Women: Drivers of Their Economies

More than 120 alumnae comprise the AWEP network. Their enterprises include agri-business, food processing, textile, fashion, and home design. Upon returning home, alumnae often start their own local AWEP chapters; educate aspiring entrepreneurs about exporting; establish or strengthen organizations that support women’s empowerment; and increase their business capacity and revenues. AWEP alumnae can work with USAID’s three regional trade hubs in Africa to increase intraregional trade and international export competitiveness. The State Department also collaborates with the private sector to establish public-private partnerships that stimulate business growth, create better business environments, and increase trade capacity. Current partners include Intel Corporation, the ExxonMobil Foundation, Vital Voices Global Partnership, and the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women.

AWEP Supports Economic Growth

Supporting economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa is a policy priority for the United States. AWEP directly supports 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. For more on the AWEP initiative, visit the U.S. Department of State AWEP website.