U.S. Consulate welcomes 250 women to fourth AWE

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By Busayo Onijala

Lagos, May 18, 2022 The U.S. Consulate has kicked off the fourth cohort of the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) with a virtual event that welcomed 250 Nigerian businesswomen selected to participate.

The consulate said in a statement that the U.S. government continued to support women’s full and free participation in the economy.

It said it was doing so by creating platforms that enabled them thrive in their businesses, succeed as entrepreneurs, and prosper in their communities.

Naija247news reports that a total of 520 women entrepreneurs in Nigeria have participated and graduated from the AWE programme, established in 2019 by the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA).

U.S. Consulate Deputy Public Affairs Officer, Jennifer Foltz, said in the statement that the programme was established to equip women entrepreneurs with the skills, resources, and networks needed to start and scale successful businesses.

“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, and we have seen that time and time again with our AWE graduates,” Foltz said.

Tesilimi Yusuf, Group Head, Vibranium Valley and New Businesses at Venture Garden Group, urged participants to stay focused and committed as they learnt new skills that would enable them to impact lives and their communities.

According to Yusuf, it is important that participants recognise the programme is a once in a lifetime opportunity through which poverty can be reduced in the society and lives transformed completely.

Bolupe Adebiyi, a 2019 graduate of the programme and founder of Cotton Loops, a design and curation brand, shared how AWE had provided her access.

This access, she said, had opened endless opportunities for her business.

“I have been able to raise more than $50,000 in non-equity funding after I graduated from the AWE program in 2019,” Adebiyi said.

The consulate noted that over the next three months, participants would acquire business management and tech skills, and connect with networks of business leaders, women entrepreneurs, and mentors.

These would facilitate lessons related to business management including preparing business plans and raising capital.

Participants in the programme cut across industries including technology, fashion and textiles, entertainment, health, renewable energy and agriculture-business