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In March 2017, the U.S.-based not-for-profit Center for Global Enterprise (CGE) rolled out a new training program dubbed African Women Entrepreneur Cooperative (AWEC).

AWEC is set to become a vehicle for CGE in their quest to seek out promising African women entrepreneurs and business owners. Then empower them with international best practice in business management, strategy, and leadership skills, which they can use to scale up their businesses and positively impact the socio-economic status of their immediate community. AWEC is geared towards building a pan-African community of empowered women entrepreneurs.

AWEC first cohort of African women entrepreneurs was this year, the application window just closed, and the organization announced the first cohort of 200 women who will participate in the program this year.

The inaugural program is said to have received over 2,300 application from 41 African countries. After the application window was closed, AWEC embarked on a rigorous review to sieve down the candidates to a shortlist of just 200; barely 9% of the total application.

The 200 African women will now embark on a year-long journey of entrepreneurial training. The training will be delivered primarily online and a two in-person Leadership Summits that will be held in Rwanda and Morocco sometime later this year.

Put simply; the applicants were impressive and inspiring. They articulated urgent market needs, clear business goals, and powerful stories of resilience and grit,” said Karen Sippel, the managing director of AWEC.

Perhaps most compelling are the women who desire not only to gain business management skills to improve their own companies but to share this knowledge with other women and young people to uplift entire communities.”

The African countries with the most substantial number of women participating in AWEC are Nigeria, Kenya, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Uganda. Though the 200 women came from across 38 different African countries, the mentioned five countries have the largest representation.

The selected women come from vast backgrounds; ranging from agriculture, fashion, healthcare, cosmetics, and education. 86% of the women, currently own businesses. If you would like to participate in next year’s program, you will have to wait for the application to be opened again in January 2019.

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