“This program has changed my life.”
This sentiment was echoed throughout the closing AWEC Leadership Summit that took place in Cairo, Egypt on 24-25 March 2019.
Leadership Summits are an opportunity for cohort members to put together everything that they have learned. They take place at the halfway point and the end of each program year. Cohort members must earn their invitation to the Summits through active and steady engagement in AWEC, but in return, they receive a priceless two-day learning and networking experience led by global business experts, investors and venture capitalists, and inspiring changemakers and entrepreneurs.
Summits not only enable AWEC entrepreneurs to further develop their skills and knowledge, but also provide opportunities to solidify the relationships and peer networks that they have built remotely with their fellow cohort members and mentors.
“[The most beneficial part of the Summit was] finding so many people ‘like me’,” said Iris Jumbe, a Zimbabwean member of Cohort 1 who currently lives in Austria. “I’m a black woman working in an environment where I am consistently underestimated and having to prove myself. I found it empowering to meet women who not only face similar challenges to me, but who are equally passionate about reframing the narrative of the African woman away from that of being a perpetual victim. I met so many women I am excited to learn from and actively keep in touch with.”
The Cairo Summit gathered 140 female entrepreneurs from across the African continent to celebrate their achievements and culminate their 12-month AWEC journey. Through interactive workshops, spirited panel discussions, and enlightening keynote addresses, the cohort members added another layer of knowledge and skills to their business foundation.
An impressive 78% of the cohort earned their certificates of completion (155 out of 200 cohort members) and special awards were given to the participants who have embodied specific qualities and went above and beyond the requirements of the program. The awards earned include: the Commitment Award, the Perfect Score Award, the Community Builder Award, the Impact Award, AWEC Brand Ambassador Award, the Resilience Award, and the Champion Award.
The Leadership Summit is both a learning opportunity and time to have fun! On the last night, everybody let their hair down dancing to music all the way from Senegal to Ethiopia and infusing American classic line dances in a way that excellently describes the diversity of the AWEC sisterhood.
“Their spirit and passion are second to none!” noted Dr. Sherif Kamel, Dean of the School of Business at the American University in Cairo and co-chair of the AWEC Board of Stewards. “I have seen many, many groups over the last 15 years, but nothing like this.”
The women of the first AWEC cohort took a leap of faith with us – they trusted us to guide them, they exceeded our expectations, and set the pace for future cohorts. As they transition into the AWEC Alumnae Network, we look forward to continuing to support and encourage these trailblazing women.