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AWE's Story

To augment the existing slate of projects focused on women and economic empowerment, the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) launched the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE), a new program supporting the growth of women entrepreneurs around the world. AWE was developed to support the White House-led Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDP) Initiative, which is designed to empower women worldwide to fulfill their economic potential, creating conditions for increased stability, security, and prosperity for all. The target is to reach 50 million women by 2025 by promoting an enabling environment that reduces barriers and facilitates women’s participation in the economy.

AWE’s sustainability is built on ECA’s wide-ranging and diverse exchange programs. Localized partnerships around the world will amplify the course experience and provide opportunities for women to continue advancing as leading entrepreneurs.

AWE’s reach extends across Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, and other regions where promoting women’s economic empowerment is a principal U.S policy priority. AWE is committed to providing women the knowledge, networks, and access they need to turn their ideas into reality.


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AWE is centered around DreamBuilder, an online training program on women’s entrepreneurship developed through a partnership between Arizona State University’s Thunderbird School of Management and global copper mining company Freeport-McMoRan, for women with brilliant ideas to engage in U.S-style education with guided facilitation and from local alumni, women business leaders, and key interlocutors to ensure business development. As of 2018, it is available in over 65 countries, with over 100,000 learners worldwide.

Within movie-like participatory modules, learners complete basic components of business planning including:

  • Outlining business objectives
  • Refining a prototype
  • Sales & marketing
  • Developing partnerships
  • Securing funding
  • Managing resources

Currently available in English and Spanish, multiple U.S. Missions around the world have successfully used DreamBuilder to reach women entrepreneurs from underserved communities. This step-by-step framework is an engaging and interactive tool for women entrepreneurs ready to start their own business, or those who already own a business and want to develop their skills in a variety of areas.

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Networking and supplementary engagements are the fundamental pieces of AWE that allow participants to apply lessons learned in the real world. Business and entrepreneurship levels vary tremendously from country to country, giving AWE partners, implementers, and facilitators the opportunity to creatively incorporate and benefit from existing business networks, ECA’s ongoing in-country programs, and other initiatives focused on women’s economic empowerment.

Below are U.S-government programs and initiatives that have synergies with AWE:

  • Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Network
  • Mandela Washington Fellows (MWF)
  • African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP)
  • Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) Network & Fellowship
  • Young Pacific Leaders Initiative (YPLI)
  • International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP)
  • WeAmericas
  • Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES)
  • Fortune 500 Women’s Mentoring Program
  • U.S. Department of State Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership
  • Study of the U.S. Institutes on Women’s Leadership & Social Entrepreneurship (SUSI)
  • TechWomen

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AWE promotes collective economic prosperity and global stability by creating a holistic, inclusive learning community that includes peer-to-peer mentorship, entrepreneurship incubators and accelerators, talks with leading women business owners, and so much more.

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