First Bi-Annual African Women Entrepreneurship Cooperative Leadership Summit in Kigali, Rwanda


On September 17-18, 2018, the African Women Entrepreneurship Cooperative (AWEC), a program created by the Center for Global Enterprise (CGE), brought together more than 150 women entrepreneurs, CEOs, and leaders for 1.5 days of immersive workshops, collaboration, and networking. Summit participants convened from nearly 40 African countries.


CGE’s Sam Palmisano, Chris Caine and Karen Sippel discuss women’s economic empowerment with Sandrine Umutoni, Director General of the Imbuto Foundation.

The Summit was both a critical in-person component of the AWEC program and a celebration of participants’ completion of the first half of the 12-month program. It marked the first time that participants, as well as their mentors and teaching assistants, met face-to-face after six months of digital lectures, online interactions, group and individual mentoring, and team projects.


Speakers and panelists included founders, CEOs and heads of business units from AppsTech, Breyer Capital, Google, the Rwanda Development Board, and CGE. The Summit’s keynote speaker was Dr. Victoria Kisyombe, the trailblazing champion for women’s economic empowerment who founded and continues to lead SELFINA, a micro-leasing company that has impacted more than 250,000 women in Tanzania.



AWEC participants from across Africa listen as a panel of women leaders and entrepreneurs share their advice and experiences.

The Summit was fittingly held in Kigali, Rwanda, which is rapidly becoming known for its “open for business” policies, earning it the #2 spot among African nations on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranking.


The energy and excitement among attendees was palpable throughout the event and continued as participants returned to their home countries to continue their AWEC work and earn eligibility for the second Leadership Summit, to be held in Cairo, Egypt in March 2019. The upcoming Summit will be held in collaboration with the American University in Cairo during the year-long celebration of its 100th anniversary.



Supporters of the Kigali event include:



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