The United States and AWIEF announce the 2023 Academy for Women Entrepreneurs Lesotho, Eswatini and South Africa

The U.S. Mission to South Africa and the Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF) are once again partnering to implement the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs program in South Africa. To expand the reach of this successful program, the U.S. Mission has extended participation to Lesotho and Eswatini for the first time.

The Academy for Women Entrepreneurs is an initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. It supports the U.S. National Strategy on Gender, Equity and Equality. Implemented in nearly 100 countries since 2019, the program has enabled about 25,000 women entrepreneurs to explore the fundamentals of business and learn new skills, including how to create business plans and raise capital. The program aims to promote economic growth and prosperity and empowers women to build better futures for their families and communities.

The Academy for Women Entrepreneurs Lesotho, Eswatini and South Africa will implement a hybrid program from July to November 2023. The program will select 140 participants to join activities in: Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, Maseru, Mbabane and Pretoria. With this expanded 2023 cohort, the total number of women entrepreneurs trained through the U.S Mission to South Africa and AWIEF partnership will surpass 550. The program will combine the DreamBuilder online platform (developed through a partnership between Arizona State University’s Thunderbird School of Global Management and global copper mining company Freeport-McMoRan) with in-class discussion, mentoring and support from local business experts.

Irene Ochem, AWIEF Founder and Chief Executive Officer, said: “The Academy for Women Entrepreneurs program has been a huge success in South Africa, empowering enterprising young women not only with the knowledge, networks and access they need to launch and scale successful enterprises, but also personal development and growth. We are excited to be continuing in our role as implementing partner and extending the impact to women in Lesotho and Eswatini.”

What do you gain from participating in the AWE LESA program?

  • Free entry to the program;
  • Enrolment in the DreamBuilder platform and expert-facilitated hybrid business management training and mentorship sessions;
  • Networking and peer-learning opportunities with like-minded entrepreneurs;
  • A collaboratively developed and refined draft of your business plan;
  • A DreamBuilder certificate after completing the program;
  • Access to the U.S. alumni network’s robust network of support, including business opportunities, potential seed funding and a vast, global network of like-minded and highly regarded entrepreneurs;
  • Membership to the online AWIEF Community, which provides ongoing peer learning and support; and
  • Free delegate pass to the 2023 AWIEF Conference in Kigali, Rwanda, from November 9-10, 2023. 

What are the criteria to apply? 

  • Women between 21 and 35 years of age;
  • Able to read, write, speak and listen to the program in English;
  • Reside in one of the seven program cities or their environs: Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, Maseru, Mbabane and Pretoria;
  • Must have a viable business idea or have worked in business for less than two years;
  • Must not be engaged in full-time employment, excluding self-employment;
  • Able to participate in weekly group sessions and commit at least five hours per week to accomplish designated program tasks;
  • Must have computer skills, access to a computer, and data to access program content and activities; and
  • Able to participate in virtual or in-person training sessions at a designated American Space of the U.S. Missions to Lesotho, Eswatini and South Africa.

Applications Open Now!

Academy for Women Entrepreneurs applications are officially open for highly motivated and self-driven young women from Lesotho, Eswatini and South Africa. THERE IS NO COST TO APPLICANTS AT ANY STAGE.

To submit your application, please follow this link:

The deadline for submission is May 31, 2023 at 11:59pm Central Africa Time (CAT).

For more information email:

13 thoughts on “The United States and AWIEF announce the 2023 Academy for Women Entrepreneurs Lesotho, Eswatini and South Africa”

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  2. Pingback: AWIEF Academy 2023 for Women Entrepreneurs in Lesotho, Eswatini & South Africa – Opportunity Desk

  3. Thandiwe Mavuso

    Hello! I'v been reading your article,im am willing to know more about AWE.Also willing to join and be able to teach other young woman about bussiness

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  5. Evening, i have gone through the requirements, and have noticed that it is tailored for youth. My question is, is there an opportunity for women of age between 36 upwards to be enrolled into a similar program.?

  6. Hello, I will be 36 years old in October and run my own retail pharmacy and also have medical supplies company. I am excited to be part of this great opportunity but age might be restriction. Can I still apply?

  7. Hi,

    I've been going through the article about this program and am interested in being a part of it. Do you have programmes like this one for women who are around 45 years of age. I feel like for those of us who are above 40 years of age we get left out of.such progammes that can be of benefit to us and our communities, as we too have small businesses and have visions to be able to grow those businesses and plough back in our communities.

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