February 11, 2020

This past December, AWEC opened its application to current and aspiring African women entrepreneurs seeking the knowledge and network necessary to grow their businesses. This year, over 2,600 applications were submitted from 49 African countries! 

In just three application cycles, we have received applications from all 54 countries on the continent. This reach not only demonstrates the strong demand for the kind of innovative business and management training that AWEC offers, but also speaks to the power of the AWEC network. 

Over half of the Year 3 applications were the result of word of mouth referrals from the AWEC Partner Network, our Board Members,  Mentors, and staff. Similar to last year, the strongest advocates and ambassadors continue to be AWEC participants and alumnae. 

In addition to posting the application on their social media feeds and encouraging friends and fellow entrepreneurs to apply, several current and former AWEC participants hosted information sessions to share their experiences, answer questions, and provide support throughout the application process. 

Here are three of their stories:

Nana Adwoa Koranteng, a Year 1 participant from Ghana and founder of Citifoods Ghana, arranged an information session at the National Startup Festival in Accra. Joined on stage by Caroline Attah, founder of AfroDiva BumpStyle from Cohort 1 and Ade Alabi, cofounder of the Child Crest Foundation from Cohort 2, Nana shared her insights and experiences and the three of them were able to answer questions about the program. Nana described the audience saying, “Many of the participants were hearing about AWEC for the first time were excited that such opportunities existed for female entrepreneurs in Africa.” 

In Libya, Najla Almissalati from Cohort 1 and cofounder of She Codes and Fadwa Amer, an aspiring entrepreneur from Cohort 2 joined forces to give a presentation to prospective applicants in Benghazi. The two provided an overview of the program, shared the highlights of their experience, and gave detailed answers when asked about the application process. While Fadwa was able to lead the session in person, Najla joined from New York, where she is completing her graduate studies, via video conference. She explained why she would go above and beyond, saying, “I am forever grateful for AWEC and I am ready to help in any way I can to give back to AWEC and to give the chance for more women to get the same opportunity.”

Additionally, Rafiat Aliyu, a Year 1 participant from Nigeria and founder/CEO of Webhostville Services, hosted an online information session, providing a comprehensive rundown of the program, the application process, and the best practices for a successful AWEC experience. She noted the value of AWEC’s unique blended learning model, saying, “The highlight of my experience [was] being able to learn from professionals who are actually doing what they are teaching…the knowledge I gain[ed] is not theoretical but practical.” 

Rafiat’s motivation to encourage other women entrepreneurs highlights the true cooperative spirit fostered in the program as she explained, “I came to understand that this quality of training and opportunity are only provided by organisations like AWEC and few people will have access due to lack of awareness and the limited space…as a way of paying it forward and helping other women get what they might not have access to ordinarily, I decided to encourage ladies I got to know to apply.”

These collaborative recruitment efforts from current cohort members and alumnae serve not only as a testament to the valuable business and entrepreneurial skills AWEC is able to provide, but also to the pay-it-forward spirit of the cooperative, a network of women who continue to empower themselves, each other, and their communities. 


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