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 professional level.  

There are many others like Sylvie who shared their stories of how AWEC equipped them to run better businesses and serve more people all over Africa and beyond.

What Did They Learn?

At the beginning of the program, 31% of Cohort 1 indicated that online learning was a primary source of business knowledge for them. Twelve months later, that number grew to 92%, and 85% of the cohort cited AWEC specifically.

The user-friendly learning platform played a key role in keeping members engaged. It was also easy for the cohort members to immediately apply the lessons to their businesses through practical assignments.

Angelica C. from Zambia was able to change the logo for her beauty and cosmetics business following the Live Session on building a world-class brand. She also understood how financial documents work and is better able to document her numbers and make projections.

It was also easy for participants to measure their impact using tools from the digital marketing session. “I started AWEC with a new idea and twelve months later, I was creating online campaigns that were reaching tens of thousands of people on social media. I have now connected two women to therapists and given out monetary support to a victim of gender-based violence,” said Helda A., Uganda.

Mabel S., a manufacturer from Ghana, explains that the clear distribution channel she built for her customers has made it easier for them to do business with her. She credits her AWEC mentor for helping her remove a major pain point of her customers. In Zimbabwe, Rosentanhia C. increased her revenue, staff strength and drew up a recruitment process that has helped fill the skill gaps in her organization.

Raising Money

At the beginning of the programme, 61% of cohort members cited access to capital as one of their toughest business challenges. However, after completing their AWEC year and gaining critical business management skills, Ejiro J. of Nigeria’s comment summarized the feelings of many cohort members: “Even if someone invested $200,000 in the business, if you don’t know what to do with it, it would be squandered.”

Several participants shared their stories on raising capital during the course of the AWEC program, including Kundai M. who joined the program with only one customer and raised $48,000 in the year, as well as grew her customer base to 300.

Many more participants leveraged their newfound knowledge to gain new customers and increase their revenue. In fact, 75% of Cohort 1 reported an increase in revenue since starting the program, with an average revenue increase of $9,211.

Profitable Collaborations

The collaborations that have resulted from the first year speak to the true nature of AWEC as a cooperative. In Nigeria, participants in the food and beverage industry have created their own AWEC-enabled supply chain: Saudat S. from Nigeria has partnered to supply Adeola B. with foodstuff from her online grocery store, EasyShop, Easy Cook, while Adeola has partnered to supply her finished dried fruits from Limlim Foods, to Ema O.’s parfait business, Leecious Groceries. And in Kenya, Wavinya M. has partnered with Victorine S., Bianca K., and Olumide D. to have their products sold on her retail website.

The AWEC journey is one of growth and learning and the common thread of these multiple stories is that AWEC is an invaluable resource in the journey of the African woman entrepreneurs. As Pauline M. from Kenya put it: “My experience at AWEC has shown me that my business is real, not a foolish pursuit, and I stand a good chance to succeed with all the tools, resources and peers available to me.”

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