Applied Learning and Strong Peer Networks Yield Impressive Business Growth

June 4, 2020

Africa is home to the highest concentration of female entrepreneurs worldwide, with roughly a third of all businesses led by women. Yet, historic and systemic barriers mean women’s overall contribution to the economy remains low. On average, male-led businesses still have access to six times more investment than their female counterparts. Limited access to capital, and the need for business management training and a diverse support network are some of the challenges that female entrepreneurs face.

AWEC’s learning program was designed with these female entrepreneurs in mind. Using applied and collaborative learning experiences to create immediate business impact, the program has proven to significantly transform the lives of the fellows.

On completion of their 12-month program, a survey of 170 Cohort 2 members revealed: 

  • 79% increased the quality of their network
  • 79% strengthened their business management skills
  • 76% reported higher quality mentoring experiences
  • 75% grew their self-confidence

Applying Lessons to Increase Revenue

After completing their AWEC program year, 72% of Cohort 2 members were generating more revenue than when they started the program. Taken together, the Cohort increased their average annual revenue by 35%, from $3.6 million at the start of the program to $4.9 million by completion.

Chioma Ezeanaka, who owns a food products business in Nigeria, is now preparing to build a global brand and says this about her AWEC experience, When I applied for the program I had less than 5 staff, and one shop. Today we have 18 full-time staff, have branches in Lagos and Port Harcourt that have well-equipped factories with staff accommodation.

Brenda Kateera who is from Uganda and runs a business in education described the positive impact of the program on her business, “With the knowledge from AWEC, I have more than doubled my revenue attributed to increased product lines, business planning, and increased partnerships.

Cohort members credited several AWEC learning topics for contributing to their revenue growth, including modules focused on marketing and branding, improving product, and business strategy.

Revenue Growth Leads to Job Creation

Increased revenue and business meant that Cohort 2 also had the opportunity to become job creators. Throughout the course of the program, AWEC Fellows generated 340 new jobs across the continent.

In addition to the learning modules, AWEC’s peer and mentoring support network is what helped Nonyelum Arinze from Nigeria overcome the staffing challenge she faced in her education business. 

As at May 2019, I was seriously understaffed. I had a terrible case of staff turnover and because I was desperate and in panic mode I hired someone that was a wrong fit for the business just so the customers won’t feel that we were understaffed. I adopted an idea proposed by my AWEC team members during our Q1 Project and that helped me mitigate the staffing challenge. I set up a staff welfare package to include bonuses, quarterly payments, and so on. By August and with the support and steady counsel from my mentor, I was able to hire new and more efficient hands.”

These fantastic testimonials are a result of a collaborative effort by the AWEC team, stakeholders, partners, and fellows who all contribute to empowering African female entrepreneurs. To learn more about the AWEC program, read our latest Annual Report.

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