The United States Department of State’s Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) Ghana Cohort three programme Thursday graduated 89 out of a batch of 103 beneficiaries enrolled under the course.
The event, hosted by the US Embassy’s implementing partner, the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Regional Leadership Centre (RLC) in Accra, saw the graduands awarded with Certificates of Participation and some souvenirs of the U.S Embassy.
Dr Shola Safo-Duodu, the Country Lead for AWE Ghana, and Project Director, YALI RLC, explained that the third Cohort formed the largest number of participants to be graduated under the programme since its inception in Ghana in February 2019.
She said the participants were drawn from the Greater Accra, Central, Western, Eastern, Ashanti, and Volta regions of Ghana, and explained that the remaining 14 beneficiaries were at various stages of completing their course works, which were online based.
Dr Safo-Duodu acknowledged the remarkable contribution of the U.S Government in supporting Ghanaian women entrepreneurs in sharpening their skills and confidence towards marketing, proper accountancy, and pricing of products and services, excellent customer, as well as good financial management to enhance their inclusiveness on the competitive global market.
She commended all the graduands for their perseverance despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ms Stephanie S. Sullivan, the U.S Ambassador to Ghana, applauded the participants for remaining resilient in the face of many challenges, including the coronavirus pandemic, to complete their course.
She encouraged both the graduands and those yet to complete their programmes to remain determined.
The Ambassador said it was very commendable how the AWE programme, which started as a pilot programme in 2019 in 29 countries including Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, had since then expanded to over 50 countries, and had trained over 7,000 women.
She acknowledged how much women business owners, both in the formal and informal sectors contributed to and drive Ghana’s economic prosperity, adding that the priority of the U. S Government was primarily to ensure inclusive growth, and enhancing women entrepreneurship to become a powerful engine for national development.
Ms Sullivan held that in addition to boosting economic growth, investing in women produced a multiplier effect, because women reinvest a large portion of their income in their families and communities.
She, however, noted that though most women had the capacity as their male counterparts, they were not being given equal opportunities, but “AWE seeks to break barriers,” and create open fields for all businesses to thrive.
Ambassador Sullivan said AWE followed the Dream Builder course developed by the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Arizona, which was an online programme providing flexibility to budding women entrepreneurs, who followed the course at their own pace.
It further provided supplemental sessions facilitated by experienced women entrepreneurs and subject matter experts in finance, marketing, and logistics, as well as online education resources, fostered networks that supported access to mentorships, and connect women through existing U. S government exchange programmes, she said.
Participants from the third AWE cohort included entrepreneurs from the agricultural, food and beverage, cosmetics, detergents, personal care, and textile sectors.