The African Women Entrepreneurship Cooperative (AWEC) is a 12-month, high-touch leadership and management capacity building program. AWEC empowers women from across Africa and the diaspora with the knowledge and network needed to build resilient and scalable businesses. We use applied and collaborative learning models, enabling immediate business impact and cultivating a pan-African cooperative of entrepreneurs, experts, and allies. Our mission and impact are aligned with the UN’s SDGs focused on gender equality, economic empowerment, and high-quality learning opportunities. AWEC is a program created through the Center for Global Enterprise (CGE), a nonprofit and nonpartisan research institute focused on developing insights that help current and future business leaders build resilient enterprises.
How is AWEC different?
AWEC was created to meet an expressed need for more equal access to sustained, high-quality leadership and business management learning opportunities, mentorship, and a pan-African peer network. AWEC is unique in its inclusiveness, innovative learning approach, and content.
Technology-enabled Blended Learning: Innovative technology and program design allows us to serve women in real-time from across the continent and diaspora, both online and offline
Quality and Rigor: Fast-paced, 12-month program dives deeply on business, leadership, and management skills taught by global thought-leaders
Applied Learning: Learning topics are immediately applicable, not theoretical
Diverse Industries and Countries: Exposes cohort to an array of experiences and viewpoints
Women-only Cooperative: Supportive give-and-take learning and networking environment
What are the core elements of the program?
The core components of AWEC are:
Online and in-person learning opportunities led by world-class business practitioners and academics
One-on-one mentoring by senior business professionals
Individual applied learning assignments and collaborative team projects
Online and offline peer networking and feedback
Who should apply for the AWEC program?
Women who meet the following criteria are encouraged to apply:
Current or aspiring entrepreneurs working in any industry and in any country
Citizens of any African country, currently living on the continent or in the diaspora
Founders of for-profit or non-profit/NGO ventures
Comfortable with remote teamwork and collaboration, especially using digital tools
Proficient in verbal and written English
Regular (at least weekly) access to the Internet through a computer or tablet
Is AWEC only open to African women?
Participants in AWEC must have been born a citizen of an African country. Members of the African diaspora are eligible to apply. All business must clearly impact African economies. The program is limited to women only.
What will participants gain from the program?
Upon successful completion of the 12-month program, participants will:
Form connections with a diverse network of African women entrepreneurs
Establish relationship with at least one senior business mentor
Strengthen strategy, leadership and business management skills
Apply their AWEC learning to their business with an eye toward sustainable growth
Gain skills needed to grow and scale their enterprise
Develop a toolkit of soft skills, including self-confidence, resilience, collaboration, and cross-cultural communications
What language is the program conducted in?
The program is conducted in English. Participants are expected to complete all program elements, including small group conversations and written assignments, in English.
Does it cost anything to participate?
While there is no program fee to participate in AWEC, cohort members are required to commit their time (4 to 6 hours per week for one year), hard work and energy to being an active learner and participant in the AWEC community. Cohort members may incur costs related to attending an optional in-person event.
How do I apply?
The application for the 2020-2021 year of AWEC will available on the Apply Page on 4 December 2019. The application will close at 11:59pm UTC on Tuesday 17 December. If you would like updates about the current program and upcoming application, we encourage you to follow us on Twitter and Instagram or subscribe to our Newsletter.
Who do I contact if I am having trouble using the online application?
If you are encountering technical issues with the application, please reach out to the AWEC Management Team at awec[at]thecge.net. In your email please provide an explanation of the issue you are experiencing, with screenshots if possible.
How long is the program?
AWEC is a 12-month program. The third year of AWEC will run from April 2020 to March 2021 and will include a 2 week online orientation period in March 2020.
When does the program start?
The 2020-2021 AWEC program will begin with orientation in mid-March 2020. The first live lecture will be held on Wednesday, 1 April 2020.
How many people will be accepted for the 2020-2021 program year?
AWEC will enroll 200 women for the 2020-2021 program year.
What is the time commitment?
Participants should expect to spend an average of 4 to 6 hours per week participating in AWEC activities (primarily online), for one year. Participants are expected to participate in at least one AWEC activity per week over the course of 12 months. Please seriously consider this time commitment before applying and/or accepting an offer to participate in AWEC.
Do I need to travel to participate?
Participants are not required to travel. Most of the AWEC program activities are conducted online and can be completed from anywhere a participant has an Internet connection. However, there are some opportunities to connect in-person, including one annual Leadership Summit that provides in-person learning and networking opportunities. Some participants who are located in the same city choose to meet face-to-face in addition to taking part in the regular online AWEC curriculum; this is optional and not part of the official program.
Do I need access to the Internet?
All participants must have reliable access to a strong Internet connection, at least once per week. Most of the AWEC program activities are conducted online and can be completed from anywhere a participant has an Internet connection, including a university, Internet café, shared workspace, their home, or other locations. AWEC requires participants to participate in video conference calls, which generally requires more bandwidth than typical Internet browsing.
What kind of device do I need to participate in the program?
Program participants will need access to a tablet, laptop or desktop to complete most of the work. Smartphones can be used to engage in the Live Sessions and for messaging with peers and teammates, but are not sufficient for all course activities.
Will I work alone or as part of a team?
Collaboration is a core element of the AWEC program. While most assignments will be completed individually and focus on one’s own business, the program provides numerous opportunities to work in teams and to peer review each other’s work.
What if I miss some of the program?
While participants who consistently engage in the program will gain the most benefit, we understand that managing careers, businesses, families, and other commitments will occasionally prevent participants from engaging in AWEC activities. All monthly Live Sessions and Peer Sessions are recorded and can be viewed later, however we strongly encourage live participation to gain the full program benefit. If a participant experiences a major, life-changing event that impacts active participation for a period of time, the AWEC staff will support them as much as possible in successfully completing the program.
How can an individual, foundation, or corporation get involved with AWEC?
Foundations, corporations and individuals are valued partners and can support AWEC in the following ways:
Financial: Financial contributions allow us to continue to deliver high caliber content and program operations and scale our impact to reach more entrepreneurs.
In-Kind: In-kind support includes mentoring, leading Live Sessions, delivering workshops at a Leadership Summit, providing discounted travel or accommodations for a Summit and much more.
Who are your current supporters?
Our supporters include Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Inglesea Charitable Trust, Ernst & Young, Google, Ogilvy, RwandAir, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, and Toyota . They, and others, provide a combination of financial and in-kind contributions to AWEC. We also value the support of a pan-African network of organizations that extend our reach to women entrepreneurs from across Africa and the diaspora.
Who do I contact to get involved?
If you would like to learn more about the program and how to get involved, please reach out at [email protected].