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 with it? 

This World Bank article by Affiong Williams explains that networking is a skill rather than an innate ability and ‘practice makes perfect.’ Fortunately, the AWEC program is designed to develop this skill and significantly reduce the friction of networking. 

Indeed, throughout the program, participants are split into teams and groups where they are encouraged to share business ideas and discuss challenges. They  are required to peer-review the monthly assignments of their counterparts and work on quarterly team projects together. The annual in-person Leadership Summit also helps to foster connections among cohort members by solidifying the relationships that they created online. 

Expanding the Sister Circle

The relationships that have grown organically inside the AWEC cohorts are exciting. We encourage cohort members to set up WhatsApp groups based on geography or industry, where they can forge deeper relationships and engage in impromptu interactions outside of the official program. 

The AWEC Kenya Sister Circle visiting a local community

These bonds endure beyond the end of the program, as alumnae find meaningful ways to stay connected with each other.

At the end of the first cohort, a group of Kenyan participants created an informal group called the Kenya Sister Circle. Thirteen alums pooled their expertise and resources, the women created a calendar to visit underserved communities in Kenya and provide skills training, donations, and small investment to support women-led services. 

In the same vein, alumnae from Nigeria have held small retreats to brainstorm collaboration ideas, map out goals for the coming year, and create plans to mentor younger women entrepreneurs in their country. Across the continent, cohort members have formed small groups of women with an industry or country in common. 

The journey of entrepreneurship can be lonely but it doesn’t have to be. The strong networking component of AWEC makes it an ideal platform to empower women entrepreneurs in Africa. To help ensure that we can continue to enable meaningful connections between women entrepreneurs from Dakar to Durban, please make a donation here to support AWEC.

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