After 16 weeks of successful training and mentorship sessions, proud and excited female entrepreneur graduates joined the graduation ceremony of the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) program on Thursday, 9 December 2021.
Early this year, 125 young female entrepreneurs across South Africa were selected for an opportunity to gain university-level business and management training, strengthen their networks, and grow as entrepreneurs. Over the past 16 weeks, these motivated women attended an online training program and were equipped with practical skills, resources, mentorship, and networks needed to create sustainable businesses and enterprises. The AWE program is based on DreamBuilder, an online training platform for women’s entrepreneurship developed by the Arizona State University’s Thunderbird School of Global Management in partnership with the global copper mining company Freeport-McMoran.
The Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in South Africa, Heather Merritt, in her opening remarks, applauded the 125 female AWE2021 participants and encouraged them to continue their business journey, saying: “I would like to start by commending our program participants for making it to the finish line. We are all aware of the challenges faced by entrepreneurs and the fact that you have stuck with it through to today is a testament to your potential and your resilience. I also want to thank you for bringing your innovative business ideas to the AWE table. From more than 1,000 applications at the outset of the program from talented, hardworking, and creative women, it is our sincere hope that the 125 participants graduating today will continue to pursue their passions and continue to be changemakers.”
Irene Ochem, founder and CEO of AWIEF added: “Congratulations and good luck to all the entrepreneurs, I look forward to joyfully witnessing your growth and impact. AWE 2021 has been a great program that AWIEF is proud to be associated with. We feel very honoured to be the implementing partners. Thank you to the US Embassy for the opportunity and trust.”
AWE is a U.S. Government initiative designed to empower 50 million women worldwide by 2025 to fulfil their economic potential. The U.S. Embassy in South Africa has partnered with AWIEF to implement the AWE South Africa program. The female entrepreneurs who were selected to participate in the program are from five South African cities: Durban, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Bloemfontein, and Cape Town.
As we celebrate this graduation, we look forward to AWE South Africa 2022.