The US Embassy in South Africa has partnered with the Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF) to implement the 2020/21 Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) South Africa programme, which will result in 125 female entrepreneurs selected nationwide for an opportunity to receive virtual and in-person training and mentorship sessions for eight months, the US mission said in a September 1 statement.
“AWE is an opportunity for women entrepreneurs across South Africa to gain university-level business and management training, strengthen their networks and grow as entrepreneurs. Particularly in a post-Covid-19 world, the tools for successful entrepreneurship will be more important than ever and this programme aims to support women in a recovering economy of innovation,” said US Embassy public affairs officer Maureen Mimnaugh.
“We are excited that the US Embassy in Pretoria, South Africa, has partnered with AWIEF to implement this important programme tailored for women’s economic empowerment," AWIEF founder and CEO Irene Ochem said.
Participating in the AWE programme will not only help the selected 125 female entrepreneurs, but will also benefit their families, their communities and the economic development of South Africa, she highlighted.
The eight-month-long AWE programme will take place at American Spaces in five South African cities, namely the Durban-Pietermaritzburg area, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Bloemfontein, and Cape Town. South African women entrepreneurs are invited to apply before September 30.
"Applications are invited from motivated and self-driven female entrepreneurs for the AWE South Africa 2020 programme. Applicants must be women between 21 and 35 years of age and fluent in English, must reside in one of the five AWE 2020 South Africa Cities and must either have a feasible business idea or have been in business for no more than two years."
Further, applicants must have the ability to participate in weekly group sessions and must be able to commit more than five hours weekly to accomplish designated tasks. They must also have computer literacy skills and access to a computer.
Selected candidates will receive no-cost entry to the programme, which includes enrolment in the DreamBuilder platform and expert facilitated virtual and in-person business management training and mentorship sessions. They will also engage in networking and peer learning opportunities with like-minded entrepreneurs, as well as collaboratively develop and refine drafts of their business plan.
Entrepreneurs will also have access to a robust network of support, including follow-on opportunities, potential funders, and a vast network of like-minded entrepreneurs across the country.
Entrepreneurs will also have premium membership to the AWIEF Community, and a delegate pass to the AWIEF 2020 virtual conference to be held on December 2 and 3.
AWE is an initiative of the US State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) as part of the White House-led Women’s Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDP) Initiative, which aims to empower 50-million women worldwide by 2025 to fulfil their economic potential, with the goal of creating conditions for increased stability, security and prosperity for all.
Currently implemented in more than 50 countries, AWE supports the growth of women entrepreneurs by equipping them with the practical skills, resources, mentorship, and networks needed to create sustainable businesses and enterprises. AWE is centered around DreamBuilder, an online training platform for women’s entrepreneurship developed by the Arizona State University’s Thunderbird School of Global Management in partnership with global copper mining company Freeport-McMoRan.