After eight months of successful virtual training and mentorship sessions, there were a lot of proud female graduates with big smiles on their faces at the virtual graduation ceremony of the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) Program on Monday, March 29th.
Last 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. During eight months, 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.
Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (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 the Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF) to implement the AWE South Africa program. The program is now in its second year in South Africa and the female entrepreneurs were selected from five South African cities: Durban, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Bloemfontein, and Cape Town.
During the ceremony, U.S. Consulate General Anne Linnee applauded the 120 female cohort members and encouraged them to continue their business journey, saying: “To grow and become successful in business, it’s important that we as women be honest with ourselves. Let’s not compare ourselves to others all the time, everyone has another path to walk, let’s all focus on ourselves and our own strength.” One entrepreneur, Mo Mokene, who managed to start and grow a very successful business during the pandemic, underlined this statement by saying, ”You got to believe in yourself!”
After a valuable panel discussion about Re-inventing Your Business in Times of Uncertainty, Irene Ochem, AWIEF founder and chief executive officer, gave the closing remarks at this year’s graduation ceremony. “There is nothing as fulfilling, pleasing and satisfying as empowering young women with requisite knowledge and skills they need to own and manage successful business of their own”.
As we celebrate this graduation, we look forward to AWE South Africa 2021 cohort.