The U.S. government continues to support women’s full and free participation in the economy by creating platforms that enable them to thrive in their businesses, succeed as entrepreneurs, and prosper in their communities.
On Monday, the U.S. Consulate hosted a virtual event to welcome 250 Nigerian businesswomen selected to participate in the fourth cohort of the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE), a U.S. government initiative that supports women entrepreneurs around the world.
A collaboration between the U.S. Consulate General Lagos, Venture Garden Foundation, and Ascend Studios Foundation, founded by Inya Lawal, an alumna of the Fortune-U.S. Department of State Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership program, will support the training of 250 women entrepreneurs selected from a pool of over 16,200 applicants.
The participants cut across industries such as technology, fashion and textiles, entertainment, health, renewable energy, and agri-business.
Delivering remarks during the virtual program, U.S. Consulate Deputy Public Affairs Officer Jennifer Foltz explained that the AWE program was established in 2019 by the U.S. government 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.
Group Head of Vibranium Valley and New Businesses at Venture Garden Group, Tesilimi Yusuf, encouraged the participants to stay focused and committed as they learn new skills that will enable them to impact lives and their communities. “It is important that participants recognize that this 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 program and founder of Cotton Loops, a design and curation brand, shared how AWE has provided her access that has 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,” she explained.
Over the next three months, participants will acquire business management and tech skills, and 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, participants will continue to be mentored and encouraged to share, learn, and network with AWE alumnae and members of their cohort.
A total of 520 women entrepreneurs in Nigeria have participated and graduated from the AWE program established in 2019 by the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) to augment the existing slate of projects focused on women and economic empowerment.