We’re Launching A New Way to Learn: AWEC Business Academy

October 9, 2019
As the world becomes more connected on the internet, online courses can be attractive options to deliver knowledge equitably, without needing to physically show up for a lecture. But what about the need to mentally show up?  While completion rates for MOOCs (massively open online courses) hover in the single percentages, the completion rate for AWEC’s first cohort was 78 percent and we’re on track for similar rates for our second cohort. Clearly, we’re doing something unique.  As we seek to increase our impact, we have asked ourselves: Can we apply some of the magic from our core program... Read More

Leadership Summit Accelerates AWEC Community

October 9, 2019
“AWEC is powerful.” This was the common refrain as 150 members of the 2nd AWEC Cohort who gathered at the annual Leadership Summit in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. For Nykita Diggs, the founder of a Liberian creative agency called Creative Afrik, “AWEC has been a catalyst for change and growth.”  She’s not the only one who feels this way. For many of the participants, the Summit offered a unique learning opportunity, as it is not common to see a pan-African assembly of African women entrepreneurs of all ages, backgrounds and... Read More

The Power of Diaspora: An India-Mauritius Story

October 9, 2019
Preview – In this regular feature, we are spotlighting AWEC Alumnae Nandini Tanya Lallmon – a 29 year-old lawyer and social activist leader from Mauritius. As a member of the 1st AWEC Cohort, Tanya learned critical skills and built a network that have helped her to lead a number of NGOs in Mauritius. Recently, she received two Indian Diaspora awards and is building partnerships to expand her network and increase her impact in Mauritius. When Tanya joined the AWEC programme in 2018, she had 15 years of experience working on humanitarian causes and she was ready to venture into the... Read More

Patience is a Virtue in Innovation

October 9, 2019
Preview – In each newsletter, members of our network share their reading list with us. This story features Kola Akintola, who is an AWEC TA and digital advertising professional at Guardian Nigeria Newspaper. Kola shares his perspective on this Strategyzer article – Patience is a Virtue: An Amazon Case Study in Three Parts – written by Lauren Eve Cantor. Kola shares his professional experience on how entrepreneurs can work through the evolution of their product or service until they get it right. Entrepreneurs often give up on their business too quickly. They find it difficult to persevere and iterate... Read More

AWEC Introduces Women’s Economic Empowerment Program to Diplomatic Corps in Washington, DC

August 12, 2019
As guests arrived at the home of philanthropist and CEO Shahin Mafi to celebrate AWEC’s first year and to raise funds to support our ongoing work, they were greeted by two AWEC alumnae – Ejiro Jakpa from Nigeria and Sharon Ndegwa from Kenya. Ejiro and Sharon had flown in from their home countries to share success stories from their AWEC program year and provide insight on how they have been empowered to build better businesses.  We were joined by friends, supporters, sponsors, AWEC Mentors and Board members, and Ambassadors and representatives from 10 African embassies. Our guests were united by... Read More

AWEC Alumnae Paying it Forward in Western Kenya

August 12, 2019
Prologue: A Note from AWEC Back in March 2019, as the first AWEC cohort reached the end of their program year and thought about what was ahead, the AWEC leadership team challenged them to pay it forward. Recently, we were thrilled to learn that our Kenyan alumnae have created a means to support women and children in their communities. This article describes their first activity in Western Kenya. We look forward to seeing more of this from alumnae across the continent as they continue to demonstrate AWEC values in their everyday interactions. Day 1 It’s 3:45am and we are setting... Read More

How to Give Constructive Feedback Using the Plussing Technique

August 2, 2019
Prior to co-founding AWEC, Karen was a marketer, communicator and fundraiser, but her entrepreneurial story starts with her family – her father and grandfather were both business owners. She followed in their footsteps and founded a communications consulting company and an artisanal bakery, both of which taught her important lessons in entrepreneurship.  “Building AWEC is both the most fulfilling and challenging work I have ever experienced,” she says. In order to lead the AWEC program successfully, Karen must provide constant feedback to help develop people and encourage their personal and professional growth. One technique that has helped her to do... Read More

Creating a World of Opportunities

August 2, 2019
Funmilola started Oppourtunities.com in May 2016 to offer a solution to the high rate of youth unemployment across Africa and to increase access to quality self-development opportunities. With her six years of non-profit experience in organisations such as the FATE Foundation, Young African Leadership Initiative and Makoko Dream Project, she became determined to bridge the gap between opportunity seekers and decent jobs and scholarships. “I was eager to pave the way for young people to access local and international opportunities in a timely manner,” says Funmilola.   Funmilola’s AWEC Story When Funmilola applied and was accepted to the first AWEC... Read More

The Story Behind the AWEC Numbers

June 6, 2019
“AWEC helped me turn my free professional development services into a proper training and coaching company.” These words by Sylvie A. from Cameroon are similar to the feedback from other members of the first cohort. Ask any participant in AWEC about whether the management team likes to survey the cohort and gain their feedback, and she will likely laugh, shake her head ruefully, and say, “yes!” These regular surveys help AWEC to assess the effectiveness of its design, curriculum and execution, as well as gather stories about how the program has impacted these women on a personal and... Read More

Nature’s Bowl in Kenya is Solving an Old Problem in a New Way

June 6, 2019
Meet Sharon Ndegwa, an alumna of AWEC Cohort 1 from Kenya who actively engaged in the year-long program and has recently raised $10,000 in seed funding for her food business. Sharon began her entrepreneurship journey one and a half years ago when she founded Nature’s Bowl, a healthy and nutritious food company. “At Nature’s Bowl, we support mums to raise healthy kids by providing natural flours for them to make tasty meals,” said Sharon. Using 100% indigenous grains and tubers, Nature’s Bowl sources the raw materials from farmers, processes them into flour and packages them for sale. In... Read More

Technology is Driving the Growth of Agribusiness in Africa But is it Enough?

June 6, 2019
In Africa, smallholder farmers feed the continent and about 75% of the agricultural industry depends on small scale producers. In order to consolidate the different aspects of agricultural development on the continent, there has been an avalanche of home-grown technology solutions. The importance of agribusinesses is reflected in AWEC’s cohorts, where agriculture is one of the highest represented industries. Henrietta Ogan, an AWEC alumna from the first cohort, runs... Read More

What We’re Reading: 15 Startups Built by Jumia’s First 50 Employees

June 6, 2019
When was the last time you read a book, or a substantial magazine article? Does your reading time only focus on Twitter updates, Facebook posts or Instagram captions? Making a habit of reading regularly provides significant benefits to you as an entrepreneur, including the acquisition of new knowledge, stronger analytical thinking skills and an expanded vocabulary. In this occasional newsletter feature, we delve into the bookshelves of our AWEC staff, who share their latest reads and valuable lessons for entrepreneurs. Akinola Odunlade is passionate about enabling people and leveraging technology to help businesses grow, transform and expand. It... Read More

AWEC Welcomes Its Second Cohort

April 23, 2019
Cohort 2 Countries of Origin A week after celebrating the culmination of the first AWEC cohort, we welcomed the second cohort of 200 women on April 1st. We can already see the same vibrant enthusiasm and motivation that we experienced in the first year – perhaps even more so as they have a better sense of what to expect from the program. These entrepreneurs were selected from a highly competitive pool of thousands of applications from across the African continent and diaspora. AWEC prioritizes diversity when recruiting participants and this reflects the wide-spread nationalities of the second cohort. In the... Read More

Transforming Healthcare in Malawi

April 22, 2019
Meet Kundai Moyo, an alumna of AWEC Cohort 1. Kundai’s entrepreneurship journey started in September 2017 when she and her business partner, Taziona Emily Mzumara, decided to fill the existing gap in diagnostic services in Lilongwe (the capital of Malawi). APEX Medical Laboratories was born, providing diagnoses closer to the patients who need them. “Our unique selling point is that we save lives, money and time using a mobile specimen collection app that provides quick results to patients,” says Kundai. In addition to diagnoses, APEX Medical Laboratories offers wellness packages to help disease prevention and promote the overall health... Read More

200 Eagles Rising Under the Egyptian Sun

April 19, 2019
“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. Read More

The Story of AWEC Year 1

April 18, 2019
When the first AWEC Live Session was held in April 2018, the program was new and both staff and cohort members were unsure of what to expect. The goal of the program was clear – to provide a 12-month, high-touch leadership and management training program that empowers women from across Africa and the diaspora with the skills and network needed to establish and grow their businesses. After a year, we can say that we achieved this and much more. AWEC, which stands for African Women Entrepreneurship Cooperative, has blossomed into a pan-African community of entrepreneurs, experts, and allies... Read More


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