Alumna Spotlight: Amaka Raji

June 10, 2020
The month of June kicks off a series of United Nations awareness days set aside to encourage and prompt action to protect our environment: World Environment Day on June 5th, World Oceans Day on June 8th, and World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought on June 17th. Four of the ten countries in the world most impacted by climate change are in Africa and the current climate emergency has taken a toll on the continent. As a result, there is an urgent call for comprehensive global and local action. Recycling To Tackle Climate Change Rising to the challenge... Read More

AWEC Business Academy Offers Free Design Thinking Course

June 8, 2020
As the effects of COVID-19 continue to be felt across the globe, businesses worldwide are facing unprecedented challenges, none more so than small and medium-sized enterprises (SME’s) owned by female entrepreneurs in Africa. The AWEC Business Academy, created to support the overwhelming demand for AWEC’s flagship 12-month program, comes at an opportune time to empower women entrepreneurs in Africa.  Thanks to the generous donations from our supporters, we will be offering a new course, Applying Design Thinking to Satisfy Changing Customer Needs, on a pay-what-you can basis for African women entrepreneurs. Enrollment is free and upon completion, learners... Read More

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... Read More

A Global Mandate to Support African Female Entrepreneurs Amid COVID-19

June 1, 2020
As COVID-19 continues to spread across the globe, businesses worldwide are facing unprecedented challenges. None more so than small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) owned by female entrepreneurs in Africa.  According to the World Bank, women-owned businesses across Africa have historically been disadvantaged in accessing support to grow their businesses. These disadvantages are further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, with women entrepreneurs across the continent struggling to stay in business in the midst of shutdowns in various sectors. It is estimated that this will worsen as employment and revenues decline. “I cannot afford to stay at home and not... Read More

Alumna Spotlight: Colette Ndi

April 9, 2020
This past February, Cohort 2 member, Colette Ndi, and Live Session Leader, Shelly Lazarus, were featured on Bloomberg TV’s equality segment, “Female Entrepreneurship in Africa.” The two shared insights on the challenges women face as leaders and entrepreneurs and discussed their unique AWEC experiences.  Shelly, who co-leads the AWEC Live Session on Brand Identity explained what makes AWEC entrepreneurs so special: “What struck me was how practical these women were. They were fearless. There was nothing that was going to stop them, and so…they wanted to know what to do vis-a-vis their brand when they got back to their businesses... Read More

AWEC Welcomes Members of Cohort 3

April 9, 2020
Learning new management skills. Understanding how to scale their businesses. Expanding their networks. These are just some of the reasons AWEC Fellows cited as their reasons for applying to join Cohort 3. We are thrilled to welcome 200 African women entrepreneurs into the Cooperative this month and look forward to learning more about their businesses, fostering connection and collaboration, and equipping them with the skills necessary to grow resilient businesses over the course of the next twelve months.  AWEC Cohort 3 Fellows hail from 41 African countries, representing a variety of industries and experience levels. Approximately one-half of Fellows are... Read More

Socially Distant and Successfully Virtual

April 9, 2020
“AWEC is a game changer.” This was a common refrain in the Zoom chat box during the AWEC Virtual General Assembly, held during the week of March 16.  A Virtual Pivot The inaugural AWEC General Assembly was initially designed as an opportunity to convene current and former participants to deepen their connections and develop their business skills in practical and applied ways.  However, to ensure the health and safety of our community during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we transitioned to a virtual event facilitated by video conferencing.  Already accustomed to video meetings and remote collaboration AWEC... Read More

AWEC’s Guide to Remote Collaboration

April 9, 2020
As the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic creates a new normal for how many of us work, learn, connect, and collaborate, we wanted to provide an inside look at how we have been able to deliver engaging online content over the past two years.  At AWEC, we foster many of the values that we look for in our entrepreneurs – passion, resilience, teamwork, self-starting – within our own team, and we have implemented systems that allow us to work together from anywhere in the world. As many of you transition to remote working, we hope some of these tips and tricks are... Read More

AWEC General Assembly Transitions to Virtual Event

March 3, 2020
Twice a year, we look forward to convening the AWEC community for in-person opportunities to deepen online connections, learn practical and applied skills, and network with a pan-African group of business experts, entrepreneurs, and industry leaders.  Like many companies and organizations, we have been closely monitoring the global impact of the COVID-19 virus and continuously reviewing the recommendations of international health organizations. In light of recent developments in the progress and spread of the virus, AWEC has decided to cancel its in-person General Assembly event scheduled to take place in Lagos, Nigeria on 16-17 March and will reformat it an... Read More


February 11, 2020
The year 2019 marked numerous milestones for AWEC – graduating the first cohort of entrepreneurs, connecting with the African diplomatic community, growing our Board of Stewards, doubling our roster of Mentors, and expanding our reach to all 54 African countries.  Another 2019 milestone, however, began right at the end of the year. This past December, AWEC launched its inaugural end-of-year giving campaign, a one month fundraising period to support AWEC programming in 2020 and beyond.  The campaign kicked off on December 3 with #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving, and culminated at the end of the calendar year on... Read More


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... Read More


February 11, 2020
Year 2 participant Rehema prepared herself to address the audience at the Dar es Salaam Leadership Summit. She looked out at the crowd and felt her nerves kick into high gear. Desiree, a fellow AWEC entrepreneur, grasped her by the arm and said to her, “What would Aya say?!” before the two shared a smile. She was talking about Aya El Meteiny, who mentors both women throughout their program year.  Aya El Meteiny is an Egyptian expat currently living in Ireland. Over the course of her career as an engineer, she has had such a passion for encouraging women... Read More


February 11, 2020
Many AWEC participants will say, “AWEC was a game changer,” but for Elishiba Ngugi, being a member of AWEC’s first cohort was a truly transformational experience. Elishiba is the Director of Yahrohk Social Innovations, a social enterprise tackling the challenges of youth unemployment in Kenya. Her passion for the issue stems from her own experiences: she herself had lost a job after building a 15 year career. She described this period in her life saying, “It was a very painful moment for me.”  These experiences were a major part of why Elishiba applied to AWEC – she wanted to... Read More

Millennials and Gen Z in the Workplace

December 4, 2019
Preview: In each newsletter, we share interesting reading from AWEC staff. This report – The Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2019 – caught the eye of Meredith Krieg, Program Manager at AWEC and in particular, how entrepreneurs can pay attention to the needs and values of their young customers and workforce. In the last few decades, several studies have been conducted about the Millennial and Gen Z generations and their impact on the economy. This Deloitte annual survey studies the impact of economic growth on these groups, their outlook towards their careers and the impact of socio-political trends on their... Read More

AWEC Business Academy is Open

December 4, 2019
The AWEC Business Academy is a new way for African business women to develop skills and join a network of leaders, in a condensed amount of time. Unlike the flagship year-long AWEC program, Business Academy courses are designed for African women entrepreneurs to develop specific business management skills in just one month. The pilot course, Cultivating an Entrepreneurial Culture, featured Dr. Sherif Kamel, Dean and Professor of Management at the School of Business at the American University in Cairo.   Much like the Cooperative, the Business Academy has incredible diversity in industry, geography, and experience. Learners hail from across the... Read More

The AWEC Sisterhood is Thriving

December 4, 2019
Networks are critical to the success of women entrepreneurs. According to Forbes, women can significantly increase the longevity of their businesses by joining professional women’s networks.  Currently, Africa has the highest rate of women entrepreneurs in the world with up to 27% of women running a business. In order to expand the opportunities available to these women, the AWEC program combines a world-class business training curriculum with a network of experts, academics and peers.  The Importance of Collaboration If networking is important and a non-negotiable component of running a successful business, why do many women seem to struggle... Read More

Apply Today for AWEC Cohort 3

December 4, 2019
“AWEC has been a catalyst for my business growth,” says Nykita Diggs, a Liberian Cohort 2 member and Founder of Creative Afrik. Her sentiments are similar to those of Malawian Founder of Queen City, Sarah Amani, who describes her AWEC experience as “the biggest opportunity I have had to build proper processes for my business.” AWEC Cohort 2 Member The African Women Entrepreneurship Cooperative (AWEC) was launched two years ago to empower women from across Africa and the diaspora with the knowledge and networks required to build resilient and sustainable businesses. During this time, we have directly impacted 400... Read More

Meeting the UN’s SDGs: AWEC’s Proven Impact

November 18, 2019
Launched to meet an expressed need for better access to high quality business and management skills training, AWEC was explicitly designed to create impact for African women entrepreneurs. Our unique blended learning approach leverages technology to expand our reach across Africa, cultivate relationships between participants, and equip women with the skills to take their ventures to the next level.  Our program design and proven results align with three of the UN’s stated Sustainable Development Goals for 2030:  SDG #4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for allSDG #5: Achieve gender equality and empower all... Read More

Looking for the Next 200

November 18, 2019
On Wednesday, 4 December 2019, AWEC will open a two-week application window for its transformative 12-month leadership and business management capacity building program.  This program is designed for African women entrepreneurs seeking to expand their knowledge, increase their skills, broaden their network, and make a lifelong connections.  Due to generous donor support, AWEC participants gain access to a year-long learning and networking experience at little to no cost to them. In place of a program fee, participants are expected to devote significant time and commitment to be active members of the Cooperative. Transformational Experience The AWEC program... Read More

Alumnae Profile: Ritha Tarimo

November 18, 2019
Like so many of the individuals in the African Women Entrepreneurship Cooperative, Ritha Tarimo is a superwoman: a mother, an executive, an author, an advocate, a mentor, and an entrepreneur.  When she applied to join AWEC’s first cohort, Ritha, a native of Tanzania, was weary of the limitations of traditional structures and society that only allow women to advance so far.  “When I saw the opportunity to be part of a powerful platform that would allow me to learn from experts [and] also from fellow businesswomen going through the same path, I knew this was the right opportunity for me.”... Read More

Building a Pan-African Network

November 18, 2019
Online and in-person peer networking is one of the core components of AWEC, connecting women entrepreneurs across the African continent and diaspora. Time and again, we hear stories of how they never imagined having sisters in other countries.  Through these connections, participants have gained advice on hiring, brand development, financial management, and other topics.  They have also shared the joys and trials of their personal lives from weddings to the birth of children to moving across the country and across the world. Here are a few of their stories: The Power of Family  AWEC has a powerful network that brings... Read More

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 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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